Sometimes we make it simple when it’s not.
We place everything on one guy of the NFL’s 53-man roster. That would be the quarterback.
In the Jets’ case, that is true. It comes down to how Ryan Fitzpatrick does this year if the Jets are going to be a playoff team or not.
Case in point was last year. After having such a great season, Fitzpatrick played awful at the worst time in what was the Jets’ biggest game of the season last year. He was 16-of-37 for 181 yards, and he threw three fourth-quarter interceptions in the Jets’ 22-17 loss to the Bills. That final regular season loss cost the Jets the playoffs.
In what was his best season of his career last year, he was remembered for not getting it done when it mattered. Such is life as a professional quarterback.
There are questions whether or not he can duplicate last season’s success. He is still a game-manager that has never led a team to the playoffs. If he couldn’t lead the Jets to the playoffs on a career year, it’s fair to wonder if he can get it done this year.
Only Fitzpatrick’s play will answer that.
The Jets are good enough to make the playoffs. They are well-coached. They have a great defense, and they have the wide receivers and running game to make this offense potent. It comes down to the quarterback making plays.
Fitzpatrick has to show he can put on back-to-back good seasons. He hasn’t done that in his career, which is why he has been a vagabond quarterback in his career.
The Jets are relying on him to get it done. He is the best they have. There is no way Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg can lead them to the playoffs.
This is likely his last shot as the Jets quarterback. He is a free agent at the end of the season. Unless he has a great year, it’s hard to envision him as the Jets quarterback in 2017.
It’s now or never for him. Fitzpatrick can only have that many opportunities. He is 33 years old, so time is ticking for him.
Fitzpatrick is not letting pressure get to him. He is confident about his abilities. That served him well last year.
But can he come through in a big game? We are going to find out about him this year with the schedule being tougher that features elite teams, especially the first two months of the season. He is going to face better defenses such as the Cardinals and Steelers this year than he did last year.
It will be interesting how he does.
One thing about this Jets offense. He does not have to sling passes at every down like he did often last year. He just needs to keep his team in the game, and go deep three or four times. He has the running back to take the load of his shoulders in Matt Forte, who signed as a free agent in March.
Fitzpatrick should do okay this year, but it remains to be seen if he can be the be guy in a big spot. He actually did well this past season with the exception of the final game of the season.
It’s on the Jets quarterback to change the narrative. He has to find a way to win when it counts. He can start it off by having a good start to the season. If he can engineer wins against the Steelers and Cardinals, he can give a reason to believe.
Jets fans want to believe in him. They want him to be the guy.
Fitzpatrick has to show he can be.
For people to forget about his last game against the Bills, he needs to lead the Jets to the playoffs.
I have my doubts on him based on his history. The last game can’t be forgotten easily. It mirrored what he is as a quarterback. A player who can put nice stats, but can’t win when it matters.
Fitzpatrick will get a chance for redemption. Sports are always a platform for that.
It’s up to him to make it happen.
All eyes will be on him all year.
photo by Lynda Wagner