There has been a lot of talk about Ryan Fitzpatrick possibly regressing next year, especially after his 3-INT performance in Buffalo. Despite that ugly performance, I still think Fitzpatrick is the man for the job, and at the very least should be getting first reps in training camp. He's definitely not the same quarterback as he was during his time with the Bills, and he definitely will not regress as much as people say, if at all.
There are many signs that show Fitzpatrick's success being more than just an anomaly. His QBR has been on the rise the past 4 seasons (from 43.85 his last year in Buffalo to 63.63 this season). That is solid improvement, supporting the fact that Fitzpatrick might actually be a late blooming quarterback. The QBR metric isn't perfect, but it definitely shows Fitzpatrick's improvement. His interception rate has also seen a decline the past 4 years. Fitzpatrick had an interception rate of 3.7% during his time in Buffalo, which decreased to 3.4% during his stint in Tennessee, and then 2.6% and 2.7% in Texas and New York respectively. These are all marks of consistent improvement, not just one year anomalies.
People also mention Fitzpatrick has been lucky at times, as there were poor throws that should have been intercepted. I don't like this argument because the same can be said for a lot of quarterbacks. But even if Fitzpatrick regresses in the turnover department, there are other things that should see improvement. For one, despite all the talent Fitzpatrick actually threw for a completion percentage under his career average (59.6% vs. 60.1%). And in Pro Football Reference's advanced passing ratings, his completion rating of 86 is below his career average of 95 (average quarterback is 100). So I think Fitzpatrick is definitely due for an increase in completion percentage, after having done well in Tennessee and Texas in those departments (62% and 63.1% respectively).
I can't forget to mention that the Jets also had a lot of drops by their receivers. New York ranked 10th in most drops with a drop percentage of 4.5%, and a huge culprit was Quincy Enunwa (10.9%). Marshall also had a couple of untimely drops as well (like the would-be touchdown pass in New England). If Enunwa's development continues and Fitzpatrick gets a full off-season to work with the receivers, the Jets should definitely be able to improve upon those numbers.
Despite a tougher 2016 schedule, I'm actually really excited to see how the offense can build off of its success. Remember that at the beginning of the year Fitzpatrick wasn't expected to carry the offense because the run game was supposed to do its job, and yet Fitzpatrick did down the stretch when the run game fell apart. Fitzpatrick can now build on the chemistry he has with Marshall and Decker, and if the Jets can draft well in the RB/O-line department, the offense can exceed expectations. As a quarterback from Harvard with a near perfect Wonderlic, people seem to think that Fitzpatrick is football smart; but I think it says more about his work ethic, that he can learn from his mistakes and grow as a quarterback. Which is why I do not Fitzpatrick will regress as some seem to think.
Let me know what y'all think.