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Fitz Sizzling as Jets' Offensive Catalyst

QB and All Around Him Are Hitting Their Strides as Green & White Enter Final Three Games


Is it getting old to talk about the rapport among QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and his teammates that has lifted the Jets offense to heights they haven't scaled in a while? Perhaps, but here's a new way to talk about FitzMagic:

He's the catalyst for Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker tying an NFL record against the Titans, one the dynamic duo could hold for themselves if things fall into place these last three weeks of the regular season and possibly as soon as Saturday night at Dallas.

"You mean catching touchdowns in the same game, something like that?" Fitzpatrick said when I checked in with him after today's practice.

Yeah, that one.

Marshall and Decker on Sunday had touchdown receptions in the same game for the seventh time this season. That, the Elias Sports Bureau revealed in its "Elias Says" feature on that night, ties the highest such total by any teammates in league history.

The mark was set by Vikings WRs Randy Moss and Cris Carter in 1998. And the Jets' franchise mark, which was broken by Marshall-Decker two weeks earlier vs. Miami, was set by Art Powell and Don Maynard at five games back in the first seasons of the Titans of New York in 1960.

"I think it speaks to kind of our versatility and diversity as an offense," said Fitzpatrick, who dished the scoring strikes to Marshall and Decker in those seven games. "It also says a lot about those two guys as players and how consistent they are and the great red zone threats they are in terms of their size and the way they can go up and get the ball.

"So there's a lot of different things that go into it, but I think it's pretty cool that it's happened that way and they're doing something that almost nobody else has really done before."

The two "catchers" deserve plenty of credit for this distinction, but the unnamed "pitcher" is a major part of everything the Jets offense has been achieving in this suddenly very intriguing Green & White stretch run.

Touchdown passes by a Jets QB — Vinny Testaverde set the mark at 29 in 1998. Fitzpatrick is at a career-high 25 with three games to tie or pass.

Red zone excellence — Fitz has thrown 19 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the red zone, and on top of that, he hasn't been sacked. If he can navigate the rest of the schedule in a similar fashion, he'd join Drew Brees of the 2007 Saints as the only qualifying QBs since 1991 with no red zone INTs or sacks in a season.

Giveaways — Fitzpatrick's lost just one fumble all year, at New England, and those INTs that were a topic of discussion less than a month ago coming out of Houston are now forgotten as he's gone three games and 123 passes without a pick.

TD Drives — The Jets have had better offenses than the 23.0% TD drive rate when Fitzpatrick's at the controls, but not since 2008 when Brett Favre had a 24.1% rate or '02 when Chad Pennington was at 24.4. Testaverde's 28.4 in '98 is out of reach. Isn't it?

Offensive Rankings — In the month of December, the Jets' offense is in the NFL's top 10 in yards (ninth) for the first time since Testaverde's '98 stretch run, and in scoring (10th) this late in the season for the first time since 2011.

All of these things and more led reporters to ask the inevitable question recently of head coach Todd Bowles: Does he want Fitz back next year? Bowles has answered affirmatively, replying today, "You like the person, you like the player."

And Fitzpatrick agreed today that he'd love to return for '16. But he can't think too much about that because there's too much of '15 left.

"A lot of stuff's been good," he said. "But we're not going to sit and talk for hours on that because we've got to continue to get better. We won last week, but there's some stuff that we didn't do well that we need to get better at, and I think everybody in the locker room on offense has a good understanding of that. And hopefully we'll come out even better this week."

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