The buildup to Thursday night’s Jets-Bills game hasn’t been anything like last year, when Bills coach Rex Ryan was facing the team that fired him and provided all sorts of pregame fodder.
Ryan has been uncharacteristically quiet this time around, maybe because he knows his team needs a win and maybe because he doesn’t have to say much after beating the Jets twice last season. For the Jets to turn the tables, they’ll need quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to play better than he did against the Bills last season — and to reverse his forgettable history against Ryan-coached defense.
As the Buffalo News clearly outlined on Wednesday, Fitzpatrick has been somewhere between mediocre and awful against Ryan’s teams. In nine starts going back to a 2008 game when Fitzpatrick was with the Bengals and Ryan was the coordinator with the Ravens, Ryan’s teams are 8-1.
In 11 total games against Ryan’s teams, Fitzpatrick has thrown 16 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions, completed just 47 percent of his passes and averaged 166 yards per game. He’s been a 60 percent passer for his career and was at 61 percent while averaging 228 yards per game over his last two seasons, so that’s a pretty steep dropoff.
Fitzpatrick had the best season of his career in 2015 and the Jets went 10-6. But he completed just 43 percent of his passes in two losses to the Bills and was picked off three times in a season-ending loss that kept the Jets out of the playoffs. Fitzpatrick threw for more than 200 yards in 12 of the 15 games he finished last season, and two of three he didn’t were against the Bills.
While Fitzpatrick conceded that he’s struggled vs. Ryan’s teams and said his numbers “aren’t on par” in those games, he also said “we could be honest, too. You look at my career numbers and it’s not like I’m competing with the Hall of Famers.”
To be honest, he’s right. And he’ll have to be good for the Jets to win both teams need badly Thursday night.