By: Mattew Orso – SportsGuyMike.com Contributor
With one week remaining in the 2015 NFL season, Ryan Fitzpatrick is putting up numbers like few have in New York Jets’ history.
Fitzpatrick’s three touchdowns Sunday in the Jets’ 26-20 overtime victory against AFC rival New England puts him in a tie with Vinny Testaverde for the most touchdowns by quarterback for the Jets. Testaverde threw 29 touchdown passes for the Jets in 1998.
There’s a chance Fitzpatrick could finish the season with 30 plus touchdowns and 4,000 plus passing yards. He would need 276 passing yards in Week 17 against Bills in Buffalo. It’d be fitting for Fitzpatrick, who spent four seasons with the Bills from 2009-2012. Buffalo’s head coach is (of course) former Jets’ head coach, Rex Ryan.
The Jets will enter their Week 17 meeting against the Bills with a 10-5 record. A win would clinch New York’s first playoff berth since losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 AFC Championship game.
Just a reminder that Rex Ryan was the coach for the Jets the last time they were in the postseason.
Fitzpatrick was traded to the Jets from the Houston Texas in March for a sixth round draft pick. The deal was originally for a conditional seventh round and would only become a sixth round pick if Fitzpatrick a certain amount of snaps this season, which he did. The former Harvard standout was expected to be the backup in New York to controversial quarterback Geno Smith.
However, due to a series of what would now be described as fortunate events for the Jets, Smith missed the first few weeks of the regular season due to a broken jaw suffered in Training Camp. Smith was punched in the jaw by then-teammate (now with the Bills), IK Enemkpali, over a $600 airplane dispute. With Smith incapacitated, Fitzpatrick was given the reigns to an uncertain Jets’ offense. The team had also acquired former Pro-Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the off-season, but success for the 2015 season was far from guaranteed. New York finished the 2014 season with a dismal 4-12 record.
A lot of the Jets’ offensive success has been attributed to Marshall, who’s put up an NFL record sixth-100 catch season. Marshall’s 1,376 receiving yards are the most he’s put up since the 2012 season with the Chicago Bears. His 13 receiving touchdowns are also a career-high. However, despite the obvious success of Marshall, Fitzpatrick’s prowess should also be recognized.
He could become the second Jets’ quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, joining the legendary Joe Namath, who threw for 4,007 yards for the 1967 Jets. There’s even a slight chance Fitzpatrick could become the Jets’ single season leader in passing yards and touchdowns. If the Jets blow past the Bills in Week 17 and clinch a postseason berth, Fitzpatrick could be considered the greatest single-season quarterback in Jets’ history.
I think Gang Green fans have to send a big holiday thank you to Enemkpali. Fans can thank him next week in Buffalo. He is the reason why the Jets and Fitzpatrick are having such a jaw-dropping season.