The New York Jets had a surprising transition with the revival of Ryan Fitzpatrick going from “Fitztragic” to “Fitzmagic”.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has revived his career as a member of the New York Jets. The journeyman has been on six teams in his 11-year career. With none better than last season’s performance when he threw for 31 touchdowns, most in franchise history.
It hasn’t always been that way for Fitzpatrick, however. He has become a fan favorite with fans and a controversial topic amongst them as well. The first four years of Fitzpatrick’s career was average at best but he was given the reins to the team. With the Buffalo Bills, he threw for 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2010. But the following year, Fitzpatrick’s numbers went down slightly and a common theme in his game was found. You know, the costly and untimely interception or late miscues.
Fitzpatrick eventually moved on to Tennessee in 2013. Yet again, he continued playing very average football but still was able to keep his completion percentage in the 60’s. He then moved on to Houston in 2014 playing good football for the most part.
He threw for 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions, keeping his completion percentage in the 60’s. But Fitzpatrick could not stay healthy and keep himself on the field as Houston decided to move on from him.
The Jets signed Fitzpatrick in 2015, he had an up-and-down year for the Jets. He went through both five-game winning streaks and losing streaks before ultimately playing one of his worst games ever. In the season finale against the Bills, he crucial in determining if the Jets would make the playoffs. It was a blow to Fitzpatrick’s stature he was building in the city that never sleeps.
Fitzpatrick had not been to the playoffs at any point in his entire NFL career.
It put doubt in fans and the media that Fitzpatrick would be more than just an average quarterback. Fitzpatrick lived up to it and right when you thought he was getting ready to go the distance, he dropped the ball yet again. When it came to a game-winning drive or turning the corner for a great season with heady plays, he will counter that with inaccurate downfield throws, untimely interceptions and a lack of overall awareness.
It’s something that gave fans cause for pause and created much debate amongst them on social media networks. It was hard to believe the Jets were poised and in control of their own playoff destiny at the time.
Jets fans were optimistic about their chances if they got into the playoffs and Fitzpatrick played inconsistently. Considering he has never been to the playoffs in his entire career, you would have thought the Jets would come out with energy and execution. But the Jets’ offense came out flat without any aggression and were unable to push the ball down the field. They played in inclement weather and once again, Fitzpatrick’s untimely interceptions cost the Jets big.
Sep 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) points at the Cincinnati Bengals defense in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Jets 23-22. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
In the offseason, fans pushed both for Fitzpatrick and against him as some wanted to see what quarterback Geno Smith had to offer with his contract ending soon. Smith never getting to play with the type of talent Fitzpatrick had at his disposal, would have been interesting to see. Heck, some even wanted to see what Bryce Petty had to offer as a starting quarterback and liked what they saw in preseason.
The majority of fans wanted to move on instead of paying Fitzpatrick a premium contract for a career’s worth of average football and no playoff appearances to show for it.
But there was a lot to consider in signing Fitzpatrick or not sign him back. One being the other valuable players on the Jets wanted him back, especially wide receiver Brandon Marshall, center Nick Mangold, and wide receiver Eric Decker. Those players were very verbal not only to the media but the front office about retaining Fitzpatrick.
Despite his lack of numbers in his career and no playoff appearances, the team chemistry and understanding of the playbook he had made everyone want him back. Everyone felt they could reproduce those offensive results again even with a tougher 2016 schedule.
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Fitzpatrick has value, especially with the Jets.
He has completed 60% of his passes in seven straight seasons including this one so far.
Fitzpatrick has a thorough knowledge of the playbook having played in the system with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey in Buffalo.
He also has a major connection with Marshall and Decker, one of the best duos in the NFL.
Gailey and Fitzpatrick both know his limitations and strengths. Fitzpatrick likes to throw over the middle on slant and inside routes while incorporating a heavy dose of the run game.
Occasional screen plays and quarterback scrambles make this offense one that can move in spurts. Completing passes down the field to keep the defense honest is something they struggled with in 2015 but something that is happening well so far this season.
The Jets are throwing the ball downfield and to the surprise of many are putting up good numbers.
With the emergence of Quincy Enunwa complimenting Marshall and Decker, the Jets’ wide receiver corps is fantastic. To think, Jalin Marshall and Robby Anderson are almost on their way to making a name for themselves too.
Both running backs, Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, are dual threats and good third down blockers. The Jets’ offensive line are playing better than expected out of the gates which is always a good sign to see early on.
If the Jets continue to play good offensive football consistently, this team will be hard to beat and will be one of the better offenses in the NFL. It couldn’t happen without Fitzmagic running wild, just like it did last season. Whether you’re happy or not that Fitzpatrick is under center, one has to give him credit for playing exceptionally well last week and honestly, continuing the momentum of 2015.