New York Jets

Slowly but surely, the wiser fans have come to realize that their New York Jets don’t have a chance in 2016 without Ryan Fitzpatrick.

It’s a funny story, yet so very familiar.

The fan turns on the athlete who asks for more money than he’s perceived to have earned. This very same fan turns on that athlete while never turning on the billionaire owner who hasn’t yet caved to his demands; or stepped in to make sure the deal happens.

This oh so familiar story is playing out at Florham Park, NJ, right now, as we speak.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick – the man who led the New York Jets to their most prolific offensive season in franchise history a season ago – is still unsigned and sitting on the couch while checking his phone for updates from agent Jimmy Sexton.

Woody Johnson and Mike Maccagnan have yet to budge from their latest reported offer: a 3-year, $24 million deal that secures Fitz $12 million in the first year of the term. Mikey Mac has yet to move, while Fitz and Sexton stand firm as well.

RELATED: Predicting The Jets Training Camp Stars For 2016

You already know the story. Fitzpatrick feels like he’s worth starting QB money, while the Jets don’t believe he can duplicate his 31 TD career year performance. The dance continues even on this day, July 24, just three days prior to the entrance of training camp.

It’s a slow dance. Extremely slow and very painful.

Slow or not, there’s one certainty the Jets and their fans better drill into their own minds: Gang Green has no shot of a competitive season without Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Slow or not, there’s one certainty the Jets and their fans better drill into their own minds: Gang Green has no shot of a competitive season without Ryan Fitzpatrick.

First and foremost, forget the idea of a starting quarterback. What’s behind current starter Geno Smith are two unproven, raw, developmental signal callers. Christian Hackenberg, the Jets second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is nowhere near ready. Bryce Petty, their fourth-rounder from two drafts ago, is still incredibly unseasoned.

Can the Jets actually go into the season with only one legitimate option at the quarterback spot and expect to contend for the AFC East divisional crown?

That’s tough. It’s a notion closely tied to the idea of playing with fire in such a league that rewards depth. Injuries are frequent and the backup QB is critical to any contender’s success.

New York Jets

Just play it out in your own mind. Say Fitz and the Jets don’t get a deal done and Geno is the starting quarterback. Forget bad play. What if Geno was to suffer a concussion or a pulled hammy against the New York Giants in Week 3 of the preaseason. The Jets would then suddenly be looking at Hackenberg or Petty to take the helm and lead this veteran team to the playoffs.

It’s an impossible situation the Jets are only one play away from witnessing take place.

This scenario gives New York a fat chance of postseason play. This isn’t to downgrade or bash the two youngsters in any way. It’s only to highlight the point that more than one legitimate “win now” QB is necessary for every NFL team in such a QB driven landscape.

Furthermore, considering this Jets team is a veteran win now squad is all the more reason Geno simply cannot be the only realistic option heading into Week 1.

This is the point many fans are forgetting when it comes to the Geno-Fitz discussion. It matters that a roster employs at least two “ready now” QBs.

Depth aside, employing Fitzpatrick as the starter is a no brainer. Sure, you can call him a journeyman QB all you want. His sub-par 43-61-1 record in the league without one single postseason game to call his own is a rough statistic to look at.

When diving into that mark a little, however, it’s understood that the Harvard graduate has never had much to work with. Some of the teams he’s played for – the Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams, and Tennessee Titans – weren’t anything to write home about.

The few chances Fitzpatrick’s had to play on quality squads – the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans and New York Jets – he’s made it count. In fact, he didn’t start playing until his fourth season in the league.

His first season in Buffalo he only started half the season. When Fitz has actually been the fully entrenched starter, his numbers are really superb.

Fitzpatrick’s Career Numbers When Entering Season As Starter:

  • 2010 BUF: 13 G, 23 TD, 15 INT, 3000 YDS
  • 2011 BUF: 16 G, 24 TD, 23 INT, 3832 YDS
  • 2012 BUF: 16 G, 24 TD, 16 INT, 3400 YDS
  • 2014 HOU: 12 G, 17 TD, 8 INT, 2483 YDS
  • 2015 NYJ: 16 G, 31 TD, 15 INT, 3905 YDS
  • TOTAL: 73 G, 119 TD, 77 INT, 16620 YDS

In St. Louis, he was behind Marc Bulger; in Cincinnati, he was behind Carson Palmer; and in Tennessee, he was behind Jake Locker.

Only those five campaigns listed above count for the totality of Fitzpatrick’s seasons that he started the campaign as the team’s starting quarterback.

The moral of the story is this, ladies and gentlemen: When Fitz is firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, he plays well. He’s a solid NFL QB who sees an attribute bump while in the Chan Gailey system and while playing alongside Brandon Marshall.

After so many years of torture, the football gods presented the Jets and their fans with an actual solution at the QB position. They were lucky to find such a guy last season, after the madness that was Geno and IK Enemkpali transpired.

It led to a Jets record of 31 TDs passes via the QB and the most prolific Jets offensive season in history. New York stumbled upon something special in the 33-year old – just as they did in 1998 with a 35-year old guy named Vinny Testaverde.

It would be downright foolish to mess with that formula and restart the offense with a new and unproven quarterback. Not to mention, if Fitz doesn’t walk through those doors, the Jets would have no legitimate option after Smith.

With a daunting schedule in front of them, the New York Jets have no choice but to get Ryan Fitzpatrick back in uniform.

In no way, shape or form does the signing of Fitz make the Jets automatic contenders. But without him, they have no chance in 2016.

NEXT: Predicting The New York Jets 53-Man Roster; Keeping Four Quarterbacks

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