Ryan Fitzpatrick was Chad Pennington 2.0 on the Jets
By Michael Pallas
Fans of the New York Jets act like they were shocked at Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance in 2016 given what we saw in 2015, but we’ve seen that movie before.
The New York Jets had a 10-6 record in 2006, and they made the NFL Playoffs. Hopes were high that the cerebral limited-armed quarterback would be the guy that took it to the next level. Then six consecutive losses and nine interceptions later, it was the end of Chad Pennington in New York.
Nine years later, it appeared as if the Jets didn’t learn their lesson the first time. Ryan Fitzpatrick gave them a magical run in 2015. Some called it Fitzmagic.
However, it all came crashing to a halt in 2016 after they gave him the $12M deal during the offseason. The Jets had five consecutive losses and six losses in seven games, and Fitzpatrick was one of the main culprits.
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Why did both Pennington and Fitzpatrick both fizzle out? It’s very simple. They both couldn’t stretch defenses.
Pennington had average arm strength, and it worked for one season because the Jets had players who could make guys miss and get yards after the catch. In 2015, the Jets played against some bad tackling defenses, which allowed receivers to make some plays as well.
Once the book was out that the vertical game was not a threat, teams could clamp down in the box and keep plays in front of them. So, when they faced better tackling teams, the receivers weren’t getting yards after the catch and drives stalled.
Another thing happened. The windows became tighter, which forced their hands. This led to more interceptions because they had to take more chances.
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Being able to stretch the field keeps the defense honest, which allows for more plays to be made underneath. You need a vertical passing game in order to win consistently in the NFL. Hopefully, the Jets learned their lesson this time.