Ryan Fitzpatrick is enjoying a season that might just end up among the best in Jets history.
The Jets are 6-5, smack dab in the middle of the race for the Wild Card and with an offense that is better than most expected. It is Fitzpatrick who is leading the way, especially for a passing offense that is far improved from the past three seasons.
With five games left in the season, Fitzpatrick is on pace to post numbers that will be among the all-time best in franchise history. His projected numbers for passing yards (3,601), touchdowns (28) and completions (305) will rank among the best ever in a single season for a Jets quarterback:
--> If Fitzpatrick holds serve and throws for 3,601 yards this season as he is projected, he will have the fifth best passing season in franchise history and will pass (pun intended) Richard Todd's season in 1983. He will also be above Mark Sanchez's third year in the league in 2011 and Brett Favre's numbers during his lone season with the Jets in 2008. Fitzpatrick can very easily move into fourth place on the list as Ken O'Brien's 3,690 yards in 1986 are well within reach.
--> 28 touchdowns would put Fitzpatrick second on the all-time list, just one behind Vinny Testaverde's touchdown total from 1998. That would be more touchdowns in a season than the aforementioned Favre as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath. That's not bad company.
--> The accurate short to mid-range game of Fitzpatrick has him on pace to finish the year with 305 completions, which would be good enough for fifth all-time. Ahead of him are Sanchez (2011) and Todd (1983), who both had 308 completions in their best seasons with the Jets. Those are numbers that Fitzpatrick can easily reach.
The fact that his numbers after just one season with the Jets would rank among the best in franchise history is either a positive that Fitzpatrick is in a system that maximizes his skillset or shows how truly bad this position has been for this team for so many years. In fact, for the history of the franchise there are only a couple of truly outstanding years by a quarterback.
If he finishes with 28 touchdowns as currently projected, it would be the most he's ever thrown in any one of his 11 NFL seasons. The passing yards would be the second most of his NFL career, behind only 2011 when he threw for 3,832 with the Buffalo Bills. The 305 completions would be the third most that he's thrown.
All in all, not too shabby for 'Fitzmagic.'
But while Fitzpatrick is on pace for a record-breaking season, his numbers could have and should have been higher. A hand injury in October definitely derailed some of his progress and cut short a game against the Oakland Raiders that he started 4-for-5 for 46 yards before the injury. If he had played that game, the projections for the year would almost certainly be better.
And with five games left, the numbers could also be better than projected.
On Sunday, the Jets play at the New York Giants, the league's worst passing defense. In subsequent weeks they face the Titans with the sixth best pass defense and then the Dallas Cowboys, who are seventh best against the pass – both these games will be a challenge for the Jets to get the ball moving down the field, through the air.
But then they close out with the New England Patriots (No. 19) and the Buffalo Bills (No. 22), pass defenses that are in the bottom half of the NFL statistically.