Ryan Fitzpatrick, NY Jets, Retirement, Records
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets, Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick is at or near the top of several New York Jets single-season passing records

Per his former Buffalo Bills teammate Fred Jackson, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is retiring from the NFL after 17 seasons with a variety of teams.

Two of Fitzpatrick’s campaigns were spent with the New York Jets, where he helped the team earn its most recent winning record and embarked on one of the most prolific single-season passing campaigns in franchise history.

Fitzpatrick’s final NFL days came at age 38 with the Washington Football Team last season, where a hip injury limited him to only six passes. It marked the end of a roller-coaster career that included stops with nine different teams (St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston, New York, Tampa Bay, Miami, Washington), his longest stay being a four-year term with the Bills (2009-12).

Throughout his career, Fitzpatrick gained a cult following amongst football fans for his collegiate endeavors at Harvard (a fact that was routinely referenced by broadcasters and media during his games), a larger-than-life personality headlined by a large beard he debuted during his time with the Bills, and his propensity to stick around in the NFL despite never guiding a team to the playoffs.

Fitzpatrick amassed a 59-87-1 record as a starter to go with 223 touchdown passes and 169 interceptions, setting several unusual NFL records in the process. For example, Fitzpatrick was the first quarterback to defeat a single opponent (Jacksonville) with six different teams and also the first thrower to have a four-touchdown pass game with five teams.

In more conventional records, Fitzpatrick finds himself tied with Peyton Manning and Dan Marino for the most 400-yard games in a single season (4, 2018 with Tampa Bay). He is the sole holder of most consecutive 400-yard games, picking up three at the start of his aforementioned time with the Buccaneers. For his deep-ball efforts, ones that often led to comeback victories, Fitzpatrick earned the nickname “Fitzmagic”.

Fitzpatrick’s most storied season came with the Jets, arriving in 2015 through a trade with the Houston Texans. He was expected to serve as a backup to then-franchise quarterback Geno Smith but was thrust into the starter’s role after a locker room confrontation with teammate IK Enemkpali left him with a broken jaw.

With the exception of a loss in Oakland that he left early due to injury, Fitzpatrick went on to throw at least one touchdown pass in every single game of the 2015 season, allowing him to earn a franchise record 31, breaking Vinny Testaverde’s tally of 29 earned during the 1998 campaign.

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Three Fitzpatrick-led fourth-quarter comebacks in December (including one in the MetLife Stadium finale against New England) kept the Jets in the hunt for an elusive playoff berth and also provided his first career winning season as a full-time starter. Alas for Fitzpatrick and the Jets, their quest for the postseason came to a grinding halt in Buffalo in the final week of the season. Three Fitzpatrick interceptions partly led to a 22-17 loss to the Bills, denying the Jets a postseason berth despite a 10-win season.

Fitzpatrick fell just short of becoming the second Jets quarterback, after Joe Namath, to throw for 4,000 yards, stuck at 3,905 after the loss to the Bills.

The historic campaign earned Fitzpatrick a guaranteed one-year, $12 million offer to return to the Jets in 2016, but he was unable to replicate his sorcery from the prior season. He briefly lost the starting job to Smith but was reinserted into the lineup after he sustained a season-ending injury. Fitzpatrick was later benched in favor of Bryce Petty before starting the final game of the year, amassing only 12 touchdowns next to 17 interceptions. Fitzpatrick’s contract was voided at the end of the year, which allowed him to sign with the Buccaneers.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Fitzpatrick won’t be fully retired for long. The Ivy Leaguer is reportedly in talks to partake in Amazon Prime’s newly acquired “Thursday Night Football” package, which kicks off on Sept. 15 with an AFC West matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. The Jets are scheduled for the TNF matchup on Dec. 22 against Jacksonville.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com
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