While it’s understandable to feel a little burn, the level to which some New York Jets fans hate Ryan Fitzpatrick has reached an all-time low.
There were no better favorites than the New York Jets heading into the 1999 season. In two year’s time Bill Parcells worked his tuna magic. He successfully transformed a 1-15 squad into a 12-4 AFC East Division winner just 30 minutes away from the Super Bowl.
At the driver’s wheel of the engine was Vinny Testaverde.
The very same Testaverde who had thrown for 175 touchdowns to 183 interceptions his first 11 seasons in the league prior to joining the green and white in 1998. The very same Testaverde who had been labeled a “journeyman” NFL QB.
Vinny played the hero role to the tune of a Jets single season record of 29 touchdowns in 1998. This was so obviously one of the reasons the loaded Jets were Super Bowl favorites heading into 1999.
Everything was clicking. Fans were beside themselves in the excitement department. They simply didn’t care Vinny was average prior to becoming one of “them.” The QB with the golden arm and all of the talent in the world had finally found a home. Things just felt right.
Things were picturesque, actually. That was, until, Week 1 of the 1999 season came around.
Testaverde blew out his achilles and was lost for the season. The season was lost. A more devastating scenario simply couldn’t be conjured up by a Jets fan.
Fast-forward 17 years. The achilles has been replaced by the pen. Or, more appropriately put, the lack of pen to paper.
It took 17 seasons and 11 starting quarterbacks for somebody to finally break Vinny’s mark of 29, but it did happen. Finally, a guy came around who fit behind Nick Mangold‘s ass so perfectly. Ryan Fitzpatrick was that guy.
Suddenly, though, the Jets, and especially many of their fans, want nothing to do with him.
A definite history lesson needs to be taught.
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Prior to joining the Jets in 2015, Fitzpatrick carried a 123 to 101 TD/INT ratio with him. This number was hardly Vinny’s terrible minus mark of 175-183. Fitzpatrick was 33 when he joined the Jets. Vinny, well, he was a very spry 35.
While the fashion these two guys throw the ball in couldn’t be more of contrast, their place in Jets history couldn’t be more similar. They each found a definite home after many years of struggling as a “journeyman” tagged QB.
It’s not easy finding a quarterback in this league. Mike Maccagnan and the Jets know this – despite their low-ball on-the-table offer of 3-years and $24 million.
How do I know the Jets know they need Fitzpatrick? Well, it’s simple. When using your noggin, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that if New York felt comfortable with fourth-year Geno Smith as their guy, they’d tell the 33-year old Fitz to take a walk.
It’s quite obvious. Smith is younger, has a stronger arm, is more mobile, and has a much more manageable contract. If the competition was close in any way (and yes, 2015 does count towards this competition), Mikey Mac would have already told Fitzpatrick to get lost.
Messages such as these only further the delusion some Jets fans have of the current situation:
Material like this – in calling it the “Geno Era” – isn’t fair to Geno himself. He doesn’t deserve the ying and yang that is thinking he’s going to be the QB come August only to have it snatched away at the very last moment. He doesn’t deserve it at all.
Moreover, the Jets fanbase doesn’t deserve to be completely split on who should hold the upper hand at the QB spot when training camp rolls around.
It’s clear: Everybody in the organization has declared their full support for Fitzpatrick. Whether it’s Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker or Darrelle Revis, they’re behind their leader 100 percent. They have, on multiple occasions, vocalized this support even though Fitz remains at odds with the organization.
The truth is simple and obvious. The Fitz-Jets contract situation won’t get done until it has to get done. This means neither side will blink until training camp. Fitz feels he deserves starting QB money (which he does), and the Jets are challenging the very idea that he’ll duplicate his remarkable 2015 season.
Both arguments are fair.
What’s not fair is forgetting history and remembering how hard it is to obtain and possess a good QB in this league.
Soft schedule or not, 31 touchdowns during a single campaign isn’t a fluke. It doesn’t mean Ryan Fitzpatrick is a savoir. It doesn’t mean he’s a franchise quarterback. It doesn’t even mean he’ll be the starter post-2016.
Don’t forget history. This is the actual lesson needed to be learned today.
It’s been tough sledding looking for a decent QB, and when somebody finds that perfect situation after a journeyman-like career, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
What Ryan Fitzpatrick should mean to Jets fans is that he is a solution right now. He, and nobody else, is that 2016 solution.
The players and the Jets organization feels this way. The fans ought to as well.