Can Ryan Fitzpatrick get the Jets over the hump? 3 things to know
The Jets continue to rebuild a team that managed a whopping four wins last season and cost Rex Ryan and John Idzik their jobs.
The Jets continue to rebuild a team that managed a whopping four wins last season and cost Rex Ryan and John Idzik their jobs. The latest: New York has reportedly sent a late-round draft pick to Houston in exchange for veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The move doesn't magically fix the offense in the way Darrelle Revis returning to New York fixes the secondary, but, if nothing else, it gives new coach Todd Bowles options at quarterback. It's not much but it's better than the alternative: rolling with Geno Smith and just hoping it all works out.
1. What's Fitzpatrick cost the Jets? According to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter, the Texans get a conditional seventh-round pick for Fitzpatrick that can become a sixth-rounder based on playing time. Fitzpatrick signed a two-year, $7.25 million deal with the Texans on March 2014, so he's a cheap stopgap that not only gives Smith more time to grow into the position, but he's a capable, replacement-level starter (by Football Outsiders' metrics, anyway).
2. Do the Jets need a replacement-level starting quarterback? And we don't say that pejoratively; on a team with a lights-out defense -- and the Jets appear to be headed in that direction with the addition of Revis and Buster Skrine (and rumors that Antonio Cromartie might not be far behind) to go along with that dominant defensive line -- a replacement-level quarterback can equate to enough wins to get to the playoffs. The Chiefs did it with Alex Smith and you could make the case that the Seahawks did it with Russell Wilson (though, let's be honest; Smith and Wilson are at opposite ends of their NFL journey; what you see is what you get with Smith while Wilson can still improve).
The alternative is Smith, who had been mostly terrible through two NFL seasons, though some of the blame lies with the front office's inability to add enough playmakers to the offense. Still, by any measure, Smith has been a disaster; he ranked 32nd in Football Outsiders' total value metric last season behind Ryan Lindley. That was a marked improvement from his rookie year, when Smith ranked 43rd, ahead of only Terrelle Pryor and Brandon Weeden.
But let's also be clear about Fitzpatrick: He's not a long-term solution. More likely, he's a one-year band-aid while the Jets decide if they should continue with Smith or make a play for Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston in the 2015 NFL Draft.
In case you're wondering: in 2014, Fitzpatrick completed 63 percent of his passes and threw 17 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Smith, meanwhile, has a career 11-18 record, has never completed 60 percent of his passes in a season, and has 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.
Put another way: No reason to subject the mercurial Brandon Marshall to Geno Smith short-hops out of the gate when Fitzpatrick is a more palatable option. There's also this: Fitzpatrick will be reunited with Chan Gailey, the new Jets offensive coordinator. The two were together in Buffalo where Fitzgerald played from 2009-2012.
3. Can the Jets compete with Patriots in the AFC East? Assuming Tom Brady remains healthy, nope, they can't. The Jets, Bills and Dolphins have all been busy this offseason but the reality is that none of them have done enough to overtake the Pats. Specifically, Ndamukong Suh, LeSean McCoy and Darrelle Revis are all great players and will all make their new teams better in 2015. But it won't be the difference between 8 or 9 wins and, say, the 11 or 12 wins it will take to either win the division or earn a wild-card spot.
The good news is that new Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan isn't sitting on his hands this free agency, like his predecessor did a year ago. And while there are no trophies for offseason Super Bowls, the Jets are addressing their roster issues now instead of ignoring them altogether. If nothing else it's progress.
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