We saw this coming a mile away. It was summer, the New York Jets were playing coy with free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and fans were freaking out.
Didn’t the Jets see what Fitzpatrick had done in 2015?
Didn’t the team know it couldn’t go into the season with Geno Smith? Couldn’t it see that keeping the 2015 passing offense together was the only hope to make it through a rough first six games?
Even when the Jets finally signed Fitzpatrick to what is essentially a one-year contract, some fans still thought they had waited too long and should have offered him more money, more years or more of both.
Well, six interceptions later, we have strong proof that the front office knew what they were doing.
To paraphrase a wise man, Fitzpatrick is who we thought he was.
Sunday’s meltdown against the Kansas City Chiefs was vintage Fitzpatrick. Put aside, if you can, the fact that his half-dozen picks were directly responsible for the 24-3 drubbing the Jets took. Two of his interceptions were in the end zone, and one pick was taken back for a touchdown.
It’s one thing for drives to stall out — there were plenty of those, and often it was just as much poor play calling as it was terrible execution on Fitzpatrick’s part. It’s a whole other thing for a drive to get killed in the end zone because the quarterback threw into a defender’s arms. Or into triple coverage. Or any number of ways that Fitzpatrick turned the ball over in the red zone.
When you throw a pick in the end zone, not only does it rob you of at least a field goal attempt, but it’s deflating to both the offense and defense.
You have to think the Jets defense was as deflated as a unit can be after Sunday.
Aside from an early Travis Kelce touchdown, the defense actually played well. They struggled a bit in the middle of the field and with containing Kelce, but given how many balls were turned over by the Jets offense, the score should have been much worse.
Again, though, this is what Fitzpatrick has been throughout his career and why he has been on six teams. Even his best years are no better than middle of the road and they are always followed by a huge drop off in production.
Prior to 2015, his best season was 2011, the year he signed a big contract with the Buffalo Bills. Frankly, “best” is a bit of a misnomer, because even then he had a touchdown to interception ratio of 24:23. Still, let’s call it that since he had a 62-percent completion percentage for 3,832 yards.
The next year he threw fewer interceptions but saw his completion percentage drop and he was then cut before the 2013 NFL season.
For every big game — like what he did against the Buffalo Bills last week — there are multiple bad games, such as this loss to Kansas City, or the Week 17 loss to the Bills last season. It’s who he is. The higher the pressure, the bigger the moment, the worse chances he takes.
Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger, a guy who loves to gamble and take chances. The problem is — unlike the great gunslingers of the NFL like Brett Fav — Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the arm to back up his gambles.
Maybe some of the windows he was aiming for Sunday wouldn’t have seemed so small if he had more velocity on his throws. Then again, maybe at this point in his career, Fitzpatrick should know his limitations and be smarter with the football. We know he can read a defense (he’s smart, and in case you haven’t heard it mentioned, he went to Harvard), so it’s not that he can’t see what is happening.
He is just convinced he can make every throw, even if we have ample evidence he cannot.
So Fitzpatrick is a roller coaster, and one which is just as apt to make you sick to your stomach as it is to make you yell with joy.
This is who the Jets knew they were getting, which is likely why they aren’t going to do something like put in Smith, or try Bryce Petty. The Jets knew that you would get games like we did last week, and games like we did this week.
Fitzpatrick isn’t likely to change and for the time being, neither will the Jets.
So you’d better stock up on Pepto Bismol, Jets fans, because Fitzpatrick isn’t going anywhere and if he plays like he did on Sunday, neither are the Jets.