RYAN FITZPATRICK

How is it possible to accurately define the NFL career trajectory of one Ryan Joseph Fitzpatrick, nicknamed Fitzmagic?

And Fitztragic.

By exercising great patience and steely resolve.

Clearly.

If it’s possible at all.

In an NFL career which began in 2005 as a 7th. Round draft pick (250 overall) of the St. Louis Rams, Fitzpatrick has labored for no fewer than eight teams.

Eight.

8.

And in 2020 he is still active.

He is the only player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass with eight different teams.

In 2018 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 yards or more in three consecutive games.

Last Thursday night (September 24) according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Fitzmagic became the first NFL player since 1950 to record at least one victory for six different clubs against a single opponent in a Miami Dolphin 31–13 thrashing of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(He had previously defeated the Jags under center for the Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and Jets).

Fitzpatrick made history on a number of levels in that contest. He completed his first 12 passes of the game — the highest total to begin a game in his career. And when combined with the nine consecutive passes he completed to end the Dolphins’ previous Week 2 loss to the Bills, he had ripped off 21 completions in a row.

He played very well Thursday night, completing 18 of 20 passes (90% and a 133.3 QBR) good for 160 yards and 2TDs and running for a third score on a quarterback draw. He rushed for 38 yards all told on 37-year-old legs.

But that’s just it.

With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ‘when he’s good, he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad he’s horrid.’

How can so many uneven performances be parlayed into a fifteen-year-and-counting NFL career?

He has been famously described as “consistently inconsistent.”

(Case in point: In a ten-day span in 2016 Fitzmagic produced his 10th-best passer rating ever and then Fitztragic threw 6 interceptions in one game, generating the worst passer rating of his career).

(In the interest of full disclosure, he also threw for a Houston franchise-record 6 touchdowns on November 30, 2014 in a 45–21 blowout win against Tennessee. He passed for 358 yards that day with no picks, registering a 147.5 passer rating. Fitzmagic).

Is it because he wears his wedding band when he plays and he sports a beard about as long as his NFL tenure?

Or is it due to the fact that he graduated from Harvard and is thought to be one of the most intelligent players in the league?

(Posting a best-ever Wonderlic score among NFL quarterbacks of 48 — 50 being perfect — and tallying 1580 of 1600 on the SATs among other things would seem to bear this out. He completed the Wonderlic test in a record time of 9 minutes and acknowledged that he left at least one question blank).

To analyze his play is tantamount to banging one’s head against a wall.

A picture of frustration.

A revealing snapshot of this emerges in Cork Gaines’ Businessinsider.com expose posted in November 2014 entitled, “An NFL Quarterback Just Lost His Third Job Since Signing A $59 Million Contract 3 Years Ago.”

When the Houston Texans announced that Ryan Mallett would replace Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback, it was the third job he’d lost in the three years since inking an enormous $59 million contract — including a $10 million signing bonus — to be the franchise quarterback of the Buffalo Bills.

In October 2011, the Bills were 4–2 and sailing along, in large measure due to Fitzpatrick’s stellar play. He had done well the previous season and was off to a good start in 2011 with 12 TDs in the first 6 games.

He signed the epic contract extension during their bye week and from there things went precipitously downhill.

Fitzpatrick and the Bills won just two of their final 10 games to finish 6–10 and then duplicated that record in 2012, the first year of his new contract.

After the season, the Bills severed ties with their “franchise quarterback” — that’s right, they unceremoniously cut him — saving them plenty of dough. Fitzpatrick was paid $17.8 million of the $59 million deal.

Before the 2013 campaign, he signed a two-year $6.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans but was cut after only one season there, making 9 starts. He pocketed $3.3 million.

From there it was on to Houston in 2014 where he signed a two-year $7.3 million free agent contract. This was before the Texans traded for Mallett who had been with the Patriots. Fitzpatrick was released after the season, taking $4 million of the $7.3 million with him.

Gaines notes that according to Spotrac.com, Fitzpatrick still counts against the salary cap for all 3 teams to the tune of $11.25 million broken down this way: Bills — $7M; Titans — $875K; and Texans — $3.375M.

Fitzpatrick, over those three seasons (2012–2014) walked away with $25.1 million and lost his job three times.

Absolutely mind-boggling!!!

Shed no tears for Fitzmagic and salute his resilience.

From Houston he went to the Jets (2015–2016); Tampa Bay (2017–2018); and then Miami (2019-present).

And he didn’t play for no pay.

His career NFL statistics a/o Week 3, 2020:

Pass attempts: 4,884

Pass completions: 2,955

Percentage: 60.5

TD-INT: 214–164

Passing yards: 33,565

Passer rating: 81.5

All in all, not too shabby for a “consistently inconsistent” quarterback from Fair Harvard.

[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in September 2020.]

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Peter J. Kaplan

Peter J. Kaplan

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