I'm not going to sit here and try to convince you that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best QB in the league. I'm not even going to try and back-up Brandon Marshall's claim that Fitzpatrick is among the elite.
After throwing for 3905 yards and 31 touchdowns, ESPN thought it was appropriate to place Ryan lower than Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. Although at least they placed him above the likes of Mark Sanchez and Blaine Gabbert.
At the end of the day, the rankings don't matter. The only stat that matters at the end of each year is the one residing in the win column for the Jets. Last year Fitzpatrick managed to lead the Jets to a 10 win season, which wasn't good enough for the play-offs, which is what everyone wants.
After finding out about the rankings, Ryan was wholly sarcastic but not overly concerned, stating...
That's pretty typical, right?" Fitzpatrick told me. "It's amazing that I've been the worst quarterback in the league for the last 11 years and somehow I'm still in the league. It's amazing how that happens, but it happens every year."
I'm not a Combine guy," he continued. "I'm not a guy that got recruited out of high school. I'm not a guy that was a first-round pick. I'm not a coveted free agent. I'm just a guy that comes in and works my tail off and tries to do my job."
The thing is, Ryan has been very inconsistent over his career and a lack of play-off games highlight those problems. To make a name for yourself and become well respected in league circles, you need to be able to win in December and January.
Fitzpatrick has never been the kind of Quarterback that can put a team on his back. He does need a good supporting cast around him, but most QB's do. He knows what he has to do a better job of finding his receivers, calling the sub 60% completion percentage "unacceptable", but his comment about wanting and needing the trust of his team mates summed up the kind of player he is:
"I need to have everybody on this team believing that when we get the ball - whether it's a two-minute drive or at the end of the game - that I'm the guy they want to be there and I'm the guy that's going to lead the team to a win. The most important thing is that belief that it's going to happen. At the end of the year last year, that started coming. Maybe there were some situations early in the year, where we just didn't capitalize. Then we got on a nice roll at the end of the year. But you've got to prove that over and over and over again every year."
Tonight we'll see Fitzpatrick for the first time since week 17 of the 2015 season where a devastating loss to the Bills ensured the Jets would be without play-off football yet again. Fitzpatrick threw 3 interceptions in that game, and if the Jets hope to make the next step, Ryan will need to limit the mistakes.
I don't think ESPN were too far off with their rankings, but who cares. It doesn't matter where your QB ranks in a popularity poll, it matters how far he can take you. Ryan hasn't shown the ability to take his team to the promised land yet, but that's always the goal.