Without a true franchise quarterback since Joe Namath, the New York Jets found that their stopgap veteran might just be their future under center ... not just now, but quite possibly for the foreseeable future. General manager Mike Maccagnan on Wednesday sounded like a man willing to commit to Fitzpatrick as this team's starting quarterback for the rest of 2015 and just maybe beyond that.
Fitzpatrick hasn't rocked the world but he's certainly done just enough, taking over at starting quarterback after Geno Smith was knocked out by former Jets linebacker IK Enemkpali in a locker room fight during training camp. In his absence, Fitzpatrick has claimed the starting job and turned a passing offense that was worst in the league last year into a solid, mid-table unit.
On Wednesday, Maccagnan addressed the media and talked about Fitzpatrick, a player he knew from his time with the Houston Texans prior to joining the Jets. He liked Fitzpatrick enough to make a trade with the Texans to obtain him and throw the veteran into the Jets quarterback pool.
Now with the Jets at a solid 5-4, Fitzsanity is gripping green and white nation...sort of.
"At the midseason point, we're very happy with what Ryan has done so far and what he has brought to this organization and the team. I would say that, again, he has a lot of good football left in him. We'll see how this unfolds as the season goes on. But to this point in time, he's done a good job. Like every team, we're trying to focus on week by week. I would say moving forward, there's a lot of good football left in Ryan," Maccagnan said.
The Jets general manager also said that Fitzpatrick has been a good influence on Smith and rookie Bryce Petty.
Where this all leaves Smith is in a dreaded no-man's land. The team's starter for much of the last two years, his only action in 2015 came when Fitzpatrick was knocked out of a game several weeks back with a hand injury. Smith came into a tough spot at the Oakland Raiders and while understandably rusty, did some positive things on the field.
Now he is back, carrying a clipboard.
"Obviously Geno is under contract for next year. Geno has dealt with some adversity with the incident this summer, I think he handled it very well. He's actually done a good job in terms of his practice, his approach, preparing. As a backup player, you don't know when your time is going to be called. Obviously in Oakland he had an opportunity to play. As a backup, you don't have the same reps a starter would. I thought he came in and had some good plays," Maccagnan said.
"I'm sure there's a few plays there he'd like to have back. I think at this point time, we're going to see how this thing progresses. We have little under half a season left. Geno has done a good job so far and we'll see how he progresses going forward. I think like all the players, we're happy with him, we're working with him and then we're going to see how the season unfolds and if he'll play again."