By: Dallas Soukup

Let’s start with the obvious – Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown nine interceptions in the previous two games and currently has a 6% interception rate on the season. Last season, Fitzy threw a total of 15 interceptions, yielding an acceptable 2.5% interception rate. Don’t let these figures fool you, they do not tell the full story, as eight of Fitzpatrick’s 2015 passes were dropped interceptions. Including these eight dropped interceptions, we are now looking at an interception rate of 4.1%. In short, he was extremely lucky to have the season he had last year. The three luckiest QB seasons since 2007 are: former Jets QB Mark Sanchez in 2010 (13 INT, 15 Dropped INT), Cowboys QB Tony Romo in 2009 (9 INT, 12 Dropped INT) and former Jaguars QB David Garrard in 2010 (10 INT, 11 Dropped INT). Let’s see how they fared in the following season, upon regression to the mean:

LUCKY QB INT Dropped INT INTs Next Year Team Record Next Year’s Team Record
2010 Sanchez 13 15 18 11-5 8-8
2009 Romo 9 12 7 11-5 1-5
2009 Garrard 10 11 15 7-9 8-8
2015 Fitzpatrick 15 8 10 10-6 1-3
(Note: Romo only played 6 games in 2010 due to injury – where he threw 7 INTs and went 1-5)

In short, no QB can sustain that lucky of a season for too long and Fitzpatrick was fortunate to have the season he had last year. As can be seen from the data above, “lucky” QBs invariably throw more picks the following year – Garrard’s Jaguars were the only team to improve, and even then, the Jaguars’ record improved by only one game (against a weaker schedule and weaker division).

This is what is happening to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Certainly, the much more challenging schedule this year (three playoff teams from last year with strong defenses to start the season) plays a part, but Fitzpatrick was unbelievably lucky last year. Four of the Jets’ 10 wins were in one-score games (28-23 over JAX, 23-20 over NYG, 19-16 over DAL and 26-20 over NE) and in those games, Fitzpatrick only threw one pick (against Dallas). One more pick anywhere and those games may very well have gone the other way – and a Fitzpatrick negotiating after an 8-8 or 7-9 season is not going to come close to the $12 million that 10-6 Fitzpatrick got for himself this year, nor would there be a training camp holdout. Similarly, in the Jets’ one-score losses (24-17 to PHI, 30-23 to NE, 22-17 to BUF twice and 24-17 to HOU) Fitzpatrick threw 10 of his 15 picks in these games. The Jets can’t win close games when the quarterback has multiple turnovers – and having the good fortune to have almost a third of your interceptions dropped isn’t going to happen again.

In case why Jets fans were curious as to why they took so long to get a deal done- they knew what they were getting, a mid-range passer with a career pick rate of 3.5% who never made the playoffs, and knew last year was an aberration, not the norm, for Fitzpatrick.

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