Thursday 24 August 2017 / 07:27 AM

Ryan Fitzpatrick making Jets a contender

It wasn’t all that long ago that Buffalo signed Old Fitzmagic to a long-term multi-million dollar contract extension. The Harvard alum seemed to have found his niche mid-career after having thrown just 21 touchdowns total in his first five years in the league. The Bills were on their way back to the playoffs.

Or not.

Following a pair of sub-par, 6-win seasons as the 16-game starter (2011 & 2012) management cut ties with their investment and sent the bearded wonder packing.

He then went on to not being the guy in Tennessee and not being the answer in Houston, either. In the end he wound up signing on this past offseason as Geno Smith’s backup in New York.

But he never got a chance to hold the clipboard.

When Smith had his face broken, quite literally, by his own teammate over a money-related squabble during the preseason, Ryan Fitzpatrick was thrust once again into the starting role and he’s made the most of the opportunity.

In his 11th season, the veteran quarterback seems is the perpetual backup who just happens to start every single week. And finally, after a decade of mediocrity flashed with brilliance, Fitzpatrick is on the cusp of playing in his very first postseason game.

Much in part to his own accomplishments on the field.

3 Wins, 9 TDs, 0 INTs

Over the past three weeks Ryan Fitzpatrick has played as well as any other signal caller in the NFL, averaging 310 yards through the air per game and notching a victory in each contest to lift the Jets record to a very respectable (8-5). At present they hold the 6th and final seed in the AFC virtue of a tie-breaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rumor has it that a beard trim is responsible for the recent tear.

As the story goes, Jets teammates were polled as to whether their field Marshall should or shouldn’t trim the nasty monster hiding underneath his chin strap.

“Trim” won the voting and the rest is history.

But don’t expect Fitzpatrick to bust out a straight razor any time soon:

All jokes aside, Fitzpatrick (tied for 9th with 25 touchdown passes) truly is playing well enough for us to start considering the NY Jets as a dark horse to do some real damage come January, particularly with the #5 back in the NFL in Chris Ivory (941 yards) and the late-career resurgence of Brandon Marshall (1,187 yards, also good for 5th in the league).

On the other side of the ball the Jets are #1 against the run (78.9 YPG) and fifth overall (323.8). New York has more sacks (33) than the Seattle Seahawks and has 13 INTs to go with 13 forced fumbles.

A Blossoming Bro-Mance

In the NFL timing is everything. When a quarterback and his star receiver get on the same page there’s simply nothing that the defense can do.

Fitzpatrick to Marshall may not ever have the ring of Montana to Rice but the QB-WR duo is clicking of late and getting more on the money with each passing week.

It’s no wonder Fitzpatrick’s favorite target gifted him former Jet Keyshawn Johnson’s book for Christmas. It’s title? Just Give Me the Damn Ball.

 

Oddly They Don’t Control Their Own Destiny

Despite their current position in the final Wild Card slot, the Jets are not guaranteed a playoff berth, even if they win out.

Along with the Jets, both the Chiefs and Steelers sit at (8-5) and should both of these clubs also win out, a shift in the tiebreaker could leave New York watching from home at (11-5).

Hall-of-Fame Coach Bill Parcells (Head Coach for the Jets 97-99) sent a text to Todd Bowles with the following advice: “Everybody’s talking playoffs. Just coach the team and worry about the next game.”

The next game isn’t too much to worry about as a visit to Dallas ought to be an easy win for any team worthy of the playoffs but a week 16 battle against the World Champion Patriots at home could prove to be a definitive moment for this club.

As could the season finale up in Buffalo against Rex Ryan and the franchise that gave Fitzpatrick the boot.

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Michael Airhart

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