On the Roster in 2015
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty
Potential Free Agents
Two days before the preseason opener at Detroit, Fitzpatrick suddenly had to shift his focus from being a player/coach behind Smith into preparing himself to be the starter for the 2015 season.
Having four solid years under his belt in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's system, Fitzpatrick's first season reunited with his former coach proved to be a productive year as he broke the Jets record with 31 touchdown passes and threw for a personal-best 3,905 yards, He even made NFL history by becoming the first quarterback to throw at least four touchdown passes in a game for four different franchises (Buffalo, Tennessee and Houston before doing it with the Jets against Miami in November).
With a keen sense of awareness, Fitzpatrick knew when to tuck the ball and run, finishing with 60 rushes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Not only did that keep opposing defenses on their heels but the Green & White were able to avoid sacks, allowing just 22 for the season, second-fewest in the league.
Fitzpatrick had a season full of highlights in 2015 but nothing is more memorable than the victory against the New England Patriots, when "FitzMagic" tied the Jets record for touchdown passes in a single season set by by Vinny Testaverde in 1998 with his 29th TD strike, the 6-yard toss to Eric Decker for the game-winning score in overtime.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, the Jets got off to a fast 4-1 start that was highlighted by his first Monday Night Football win when he completed 22 of 34 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the 20-7 victory in Indianapolis, followed two games later by his piloting of the Jets past the Dolphins in London, 27-14.
However, the Jets faced adversity in the middle of the season, winning only one game against Jacksonville in a five-game stretch to fall back to .500 at 5-5.
One of the losses in that skid came in Oakland, when Fitzpatrick sustained a thumb injury on his non-throwing hand at the end of a first-quarter scramble. Enter Smith for his first and only action of the season as he completed 27 of 42 passes for 265 yards and two TDs in the 34-20 Game 7 loss.
While Fitzpatrick was able to run a productive offense, a loss to the Raiders in Oakland left Jets Nation wondering the fate of his season after sustaining a thumb injury in the first quarter on his non-throwing hand. Enter Smith, who saw action for the first time of the year and finished the game 27-of-42 for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
After the 24-17 loss to the Texans, it was time for some changes, Fitzpatrick trimmed his beard and he, Gailey and the offense got back to playing more fundamental football. From that point on, they went on a five-game winning streak before losing the season finale to the Bills in cold, windy Buffalo.
Upon coming to the Jets in the March trade with Houston, Fitzpatrick began his fourth straight year with a different team. With free agency looming in March, Fitzpatrick has said he'd like to remain with the Jets and the Jets brass have said they'd like to keep him here. The sides have set to work to reach an agreement for him to start his 12th NFL season as a member of the Green & White.
For the two young quarterbacks on the roster, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty, last season was a time to learn Gailey's offense. Smith had time to watch Fitzpatrick operate while preparing himself week in and week out to be ready to jump into the game at a moment's notice.
Petty, whom the Jets moved up in the fourth round to draft last spring, was not baptized by fire in 2015. After playing in the first three preseason games, the rookie had the opportunity to learn the nuances of an NFL offense while working on his craft and his transition from college to the pros in the classroom and on the practice field.
As GM Mike Maccagnan said in his end-of-the-season remarks: "Bryce has made a lot of progress and we're excited to have another offseason with him. Geno's under contract and we like the progress he's made and how he handled the situation in the summer. We're going to see how Geno and Bryce progress in the offseason and go from there. That's assuming we're able to re-sign Ryan."