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NY Jets: The Giveaways Have Ceased

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For the time being the Jets have stopped turning the ball over.

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rough run to start the 2016 season.  Ten interceptions in four games had Jets fans bringing out the pitchforks and torches.  But quietly, without fanfare, going almost unnoticed, the interceptions have stopped.

Consider this.  In the last four games Ryan Fitzpatrick has one interception. One!  Did anyone see this coming?  If they did I certainly missed the prediction.  Over those last four games Fitzpatrick has thrown 117 passes.  That makes for a minuscule 0.85% interception rate over the last four games.  If Fitzpatrick had done that all year he would rank 2nd, behind only Russell Wilson, among all quarterbacks who have played in every game this season.  Obviously that right there is a fine bit of cherry picking, ignoring the travesty of the first four games, but it still illustrates just how much things have turned over in the turnover department for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

This isn't just a nice stretch of relatively turnover free football for Fitzpatrick for this year.  It's tied for the finest stretch of his entire career.  Now in his 12th season in the NFL, Ryan Fitzpatrick has never had a four game stretch with less than one interception.  He had one interception over a four game stretch in his best stretch of games in 2015 just before the season finale.  He did it in 2014 with the Texans.  And that's it, the only other times in Fitzpatrick's career he has managed the feat.

What's particularly interesting is that in 2015 Fitzpatrick's low turnover stretch coincided with a five game winning streak. The Jets never got down by double digits in any of those games. Likewise in his 2014 stretch his team only got behind by double digits in one game.  Contrast that with his 2016 stretch, in which Fitzpatrick has been down double digits in three of the four games in question.  The rap on Fitzpatrick has been just get him down big and watch him implode while forcing throws trying to get back into the game.  Interestingly these last four games that theory has not held up.

Two things defined the reasons why Jets fans rightfully felt that Ryan Fitzpatrick should be replaced. One was his enormous number of turnovers.  That has been addressed, to a degree that I would venture very few Jets fans would have believed possible a month ago. Indeed, I would guess there are some Jets fans very much surprised to be learning this now.  The other problem was the Jets just weren't scoring, and Fitzpatrick wasn't sticking the ball in the end zone. That has been much more of a mixed bag the last four games.  The Jets scoring was pathetic against Pittsburgh and Arizona, but picked up markedly against Baltimore and Cleveland. Obviously the level of competition comes into play here.  Fitzpatrick still isn't throwing touchdown passes nearly enough and the offense may well stagnate the minute the competition increases.  But at least for a couple of games the scoring hasn't been a problem.

I am well aware that most Jets fans have already made up their mind; Fitzpatrick has to go.  In all likelihood, given his long past riddled with turnovers, Fitzpatrick's brief fling with turnover free football is about to end in a torrent of interceptions. That is the most likely path from here. But what if that isn't what happens?  What if Fitzpatrick has somehow finally learned to protect the ball?  In that unlikely event, if he can just keep the team scoring at a decent rate he really would give the Jets a chance to win in almost every remaining game.  Sure, it's unlikely, but crazier things have happened. Here's to a wildly unlikely eight game extension of the recent turnover free Fitzpatrick show.  Wouldn't that be amazing?  A trick worthy of the name Fitzmagic 2.0.