As you all know, it isn't a secret that I'm one of the last supporters of Geno Smith. I was one of his first fans, and I'll never give up my belief that he has all the tools to be great. I haven't seen much of these tools from Ryan Fitzpatrick in his career, and I didn't think he had any real redeeming (football) qualities.* As a result, I've probably been unfairly harsh on Fitzpatrick, and it's time I apologize.
After yesterday's game, I was baffled how anyone thought Fitzpatrick had a good game. I thought he had a phenomenal touchdown run, but he was so plainly and evidently the weak link on the offense to me and his limitations so vividly on display that I just didn't understand it. I rewatched the game, and my thoughts have somewhat changed.
He threw a bad interception, and Brandon Marshall bailed him out at least twice. The first was with that filthy good one-handed catch that was too far in front of him, and the second was a lollipop throw on a fifteen-yard pass that was short. Marshall all but picked it up off the ground, through what should have been a pass defense, and turned it into a touchdown. He just can't throw more than 5-10 yards, so let's hope the team doesn't get into a hole where they need him to do so. Marshall currently has four consecutive 100 yard games, the most since Don Maynard in 1968. That helps.
Chris Ivory also helps a lot, as the leading rusher in the NFL with 115 yards/game. The offensive line has only allowed two sacks this year on Fitzpatrick, and one of those was a botched snap that Fitzpatrick fell on. So all that certainly helps, and not to start a debate, but I would like to see Smith with all these weapons, but a better running ability and arm to get the ball down the field.
So all of that said, Fitzpatrick played better than I thought this game. It was definitely his best of the season. He showed poise and calm under pressure, and rallied the offense after a stagnant first half. It would have been easy to give up, but the New York Jets showed why they're one of the best teams in the league, and I'll give a lot of credit to Fitzpatrick. Chan Gailey has also done a wonderful job customizing his scheme to Fitzpatrick by letting him play within his limits and not trying to make him do anything he physically can't. I mentioned his running, but that has certainly been a revelation, the team seems to love him, and he can actually complete screens, which is a nice change of pace. Fitzpatrick has historically struggled the more games he plays in a season, but with this supporting cast, it looks like he may be able to buck the trend.
At the end of the day, the team is 4-1, and you can't argue with that. Fitzpatrick may be the weak link, but he's a leader among men, and you can't really justify switching to Smith at the moment.
*But did you know he went to Harvard University?