What a difference a year makes for the Jets. At this time last year, many fans just wanted them to resign Ryan Fitzpatrick, who surprisingly led the Jets just 1 win shy of a playoff berth, leading the team to a 10-6 record. The team was full of older players including Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis, and the feeling was to resign Fitzpatrick with the hopes of making a deep playoff run in 2016.
During the 2015 season, Ryan Fitzpatrick set the Jets single season record for touchdown passes in a season (31), so it seemed critical for the team to resign him. The Jets realistically have not had a consistent franchise quarterback since Joe Namath. The hope with Ryan Fitzpatrick was that he would win games with dangerous weapons around him and a tough defense. Well, 2016 was nothing but a disaster for the team, and to conclude, Ryan Fitzpatrick is now a backup quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here in 2017.
But, 2015 was just another tease for Jets fans. A year where there was little expectations, but the results were off the charts to the passionate fan. Geno Smith was supposed to be the 2015 starting quarterback, but that fell apart when IK Enemkpali, a teammate to Smith, punched him in the face and broke his jaw. In comes a career journeymen who has always been that bridge quarterback. Never the guy that a team felt would be their longterm answer, but a guy who could win a game if needed. So, Jets fans had low hopes.
Move forward to December 27th, 2016. The Jets were taking on the Patriots, who always seem to be in the way. At the time, the Jets were 9-5, and in contention for a Wild Card spot, surprisingly to many Jets fans. A battle back and forth, the game went to overtime with the score tied 20-20. After the Patriots decided to defer and let the Jets receive for whatever reason, the Jets would get the ball first. That’s all Ryan Fitzpatrick needed. The drive got going when Fitzpatrick hit Quincy Enunwa for a 48 yard reception. After, a 20 yard reception by Brandon Marshall, Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker in the endzone for the game winner. The Meadowlands (which I happened to be at that day), was rocking. As that happened, the Pittsburgh Steelers had lost to the Baltimore Ravens, which meant the Jets passed them for the final wild card spot. It was arguably Ryan Fitzpatrick’s best and most clutch game as a Jet, and maybe his career. He finished with 296 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes, a signature win what Jet fans would hope to be a memorable year.
The team then went into Buffalo to face the Bills led by former head coach Rex Ryan, in a win and they’re in game. The Jets were riding a 5 game win streak, but in typical Jets fashion, they laid an egg, and lost the game 22-17. The Steelers won their game, and passed the Jets for the final wild card spot. A frustrating end to what could have been one of the most surprising and exciting Jets seasons of all time.
Many Jets fans will remember 2016 for how poorly Ryan Fitzpatrick preformed. A disappointing season, the team is now in total rebuild mode, and is in contention to get the number 1 overall pick when all is said and done in 2017. People are writing the team off now, and the season hasn’t even started yet. But, the Ryan Fitzpatrick era shows why every season takes on a toll of it’s own. In 2015, the Jets were riding high. But, after a disastrous week 17 loss, the team has toppled down ever since. At the end of the day, Ryan Fitzpatrick is engraved in the Jets’ record books; with the most touchdown passes in a single season for the team. Two years later, and he is no longer a member of the Jets. Fingers have been pointed everywhere, but it’s just another chapter in the story of the New York Jets. What will the next chapter be?
All stats via NFL.com.