Can Ryan Fitzpatrick truly be better for the Jets in 2016?

Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) on the field before the game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) on the field before the game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets put a lot of time into re-signing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who returns ready to continue the momentum he started last season. Can he truly be better in 2016?

All throughout the offseason, the hottest topic centered about whether or not quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would return to finish what he started. He totaled one of the greatest seasons ever at quarterback for the Jets last year as everyone believed it would be a no-brainer that they would bring him back for 2016.

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It took a long time but at the final hour, Fitzpatrick returned to the Jets after signing a new contract to the tune of a one-year deal worth a little over $12M. The Jets were able to keep most of his offensive partners in crime together for the upcoming season with the addition of running back Matt Forte and some quality young wide receivers to add more to their arsenal.

There is hope that he can once again channel some of that patented “Fitzmagic” to rally the Jets straight to finally make an appearance in the NFL Playoffs. The truth of the matter is things won’t be as easy as they were last season.

It’s no secret that the Jets totaled 10-6 last year thanks to a very easy schedule. They had a beautiful situation in their season finale where all they had to do were beat the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, the Jets failed to do so but aside from that moment, looked like a team destined to make some serious noise in the NFL Playoffs.

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With all that in the past, all eyes will be on Fitzpatrick and see if he was worth pursuing all offseason long.

Fitzpatrick will be facing tougher opponents, see much more complex defensive scheming, and will undoubtedly have his hands full the first few weeks of the season.

Considering he also missed all organized team activities and most of the training camp in the offseason, he’ll be rusty without question.

For Fitzpatrick to truly be better for the Jets this upcoming season, he simply can’t give up costly turnovers or put himself in risk of getting injured.

Jets Nation had quite the scare last season when Fitzpatrick suffered a thumb injury due to not sliding properly against the Oakland Raiders. Luckily he didn’t miss much time at all but had it serve as a lesson that sliding and taking care of his body is of the utmost important for 2016.

Even head coach Todd Bowles recently chimed in on the expectations Fitzpatrick set for himself and what would happen should he get hurt in 2016. Courtesy of the Media Relations Department of the Jets, here is what Bowles said:

On Ryan Fitzpatrick’s comments that he can better this year and where he can be a better quarterback…

That’s a hard question for me. If you ask me about anybody on the team, I’m going to tell you what they shouldn’t be doing. So obviously you don’t want the interceptions and you don’t want the turnovers and his number one thing he can be better at is learning how to slide feet-first, instead of head-first. That’s my take on it.

On being nervous if he were to lose Fitzpatrick to injury…

No, I don’t think about losing people. People get hurt in the league. It’s unfortunate. They get hurt. You just want them to be smart. Sometimes you don’t have to run and they can just sack you and you can get hurt. So you just got to be careful and selective the way he runs. Every quarterback is going to scramble, they just have to be smart about it.

On whether Fitzpatrick will take the advice to slide more…

If he slides one time more, he’s taking the advice.

Fitzpatrick needs to make sure he uses his football IQ and not only play to the best of his abilities but protect himself at all costs from injury. The Jets invested heavily into him for 2016 as it makes sense in the grand scheme of things for him follow suit and put the team in a great position to win plenty of football games.

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Overall, expectations are high for the Jets and if they are ending their playoff drought, it all starts and ends with Fitzpatrick. If he’s healthy and plays anywhere close to what he did in 2015, he will turn the Jets into a true playoff-contending team that would be flat out scary to face in the postseason. If he doesn’t or suffers an injury due to not sticking to the game plan of protecting himself, especially when sliding, it would prove it wasn’t worth going to such lengths to bring him back at all for 2016.