Wednesday brought news that fans of the New York Jets had been waiting for all off-season; the team finally re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. After months and months of no progress, the team and Fitzpatrick finally agreed to a one year contract for 12 million dollars.
All off-season Fitzpatrick made it clear he had no issues in retiring if the team did not make him a legitimate offer. And for the longest time the Jets took it as a bluff, not budging and making no move to bring back their starting quarterback. But the team finally realized they would be doomed if they started the season with Geno Smith as their quarterback.
Having Fitzpatrick back in the fold has Jets fans talking playoffs, as they see themselves as the best team in the AFC East. Well, Jets fans, I hate to burst your bubble, but the team is not going to win the division just because Fitzpatrick is back. To take it one step further, the team is not even going to make the playoffs.
Sure the team has plenty of talent. But guess what, they did last season as well. And last season the team ended the season with a record of 10-6, which is nothing to shake your head at. But despite that record, the team missed out on the playoffs. So take that piece of knowledge, and add in the following few facts.
Last season the Jets faced a fairly light schedule, while this season’s schedule is much more difficult. The Jets need to go up against the entire AFC North before they get to their bye week in week 11. They also need to take on NFC West, which is another formidable division. Add in the Chiefs, Colts and the members of their own division, and the Jets do not have many games that you can say are gimmes this year. Last seasons team would not have won 10 games if it had this schedule.
Speaking of last years team, not much has changed. The major change is Chris Ivory is gone, and Matt Forte is in at running back. Yes, Forte is a solid running back who excels at catching the ball out of the backfield, which will bode well in Chan Gailey’s style of offense. But Chris Ivory led the AFC in rushing last season. So sure you add the pass catching ability of Forte, but how much more valuable can he be compared to Ivory last year?
And let us not forget, Forte has had his fair share of injuries in his career. He also happens to be 30, and turning 31 later in the season. Typically, running backs start to fall off the cliff after they hit that 30-year mark. So will he be the effective player the Jets are hoping for? Given the team only gave him a two-year deal, that tells me the team is well aware of this fact.
Now let’s talk about the quarterback position itself. Before Fitzpatrick re-signed, the team was going to be starting Geno Smith. And everyone pretty much agreed that that was going to be a total disaster. But Jets fans will not have to worry about that nightmare. Fitzpatrick will be the starter, no questions asked.
So why is this fact getting Jets fans dreaming of the playoffs? Well, last season was a career year for the signal caller, as he threw for almost 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also has several years under Chan Gailey and he knows how his offense operates. But Fitzpatrick’s high 2015 season does not mean anything for 2016.
Let’s start with this fact. Fitzpatrick is a journey man quarterback who is 33 years old, and will be 34 after the bye week. Fitzpatrick spent several average seasons in Buffalo, followed by one year in Tennessee and one in Houston. That led him to the Jets in the 2015 season, and may I remind Jets’ fans that they were screaming in anger when the team signed him last year. Before last season he was seen as nothing more than a backup starting because the other options were simply worse.
One career year later and he is viewed as the savior? I’m sorry but that just does not add up. His career year numbers can be attributed to several things. First off, he has two top of the line wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. And yes, both men will be returning. But how much better can their numbers get compared to last year? Behind those men, the receiving options are average at best. Forte, assuming he can stay healthy, will become the third best option for catching passes.
That soft schedule also had to factor in on the quarterbacks success last year. This years’ opponents will not be as forgiving. And despite his career year, Fitzpatrick still threw 15 interceptions, which was the fifth most in the league last season. And some of those came at pivotal moments for the team.
The fact of the matter is Fitzpatrick is a quarterback that relies on his brain more than his talent. He is an extremely smart player, but that can only overcome his mediocre so much. He will throw his fair share of interceptions for that reason. And those can be killers for the team, just like they were last year.
Now let’s take a quick peek around the division. The New England Patriots will be without Tom Brady for four games. But the team is still loaded, and suffered only one major loss in Chandler Jones. But they have made additions to help them elsewhere, and the team is still ultra-talented. I have faith that Jimmy Garoppolo has learned enough under Brady, and possesses enough talent to win at least two of his four games. The Miami Dolphins seem to disappoint most seasons, but they have a boatload of talent on offense this season. Their offensive weapons can match that of the Jets, and they possess a quarterback with a higher ceiling than Fitzpatrick in the form of Ryan Tannehill. The Buffalo Bills are an enigma, but with Rex Ryan leading them they will at least step up when they face the Jets, even if they struggle overall.
One final note. Training camps are already underway for teams. Up until this point, Fitzpatrick did not know if he would be playing football or watching from his couch this season. So how hard was he working during the off-season? Is he in the best shape he could be? We will not know until he takes the field. And given his age, not being in shape sure leads to an increased risk of injury. And I would like to point out what will happen if Fitzpatrick gets hurt and is forced to miss time: Geno Smith would take over as the starting quarterback. For more on what would would happen if Geno starts, you can check out this article here.
Still, think the New York Jets are playoff bound? I am not buying. You can talk about how good their defense is, but realize Darrelle Revis is getting older as well and has shown signs of regression. You can talk about how they have two studs at wide receiver. But remember, they had monster seasons last year, and the team still missed the playoffs. Oh, you want to tell me about how the team added Matt Forte? But may I remind you, Chris Ivory led the AFC in rushing last year, and he is gone. In addition to the fact that Forte is 30, and very injury prone.
The fact of the matter is, there are plenty of questions facing the Jets. Yes, they have talent, but so does every team in the NFL. When you put all of the puzzle pieces together, it points to the New York Jets on the outside looking in when the playoffs come around. And the addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick does not change that fact.