FLORHAM PARK, N.J.- It hasn't been easy to find many commonalties for Ryan Fitzpatrick during his 11 years in the NFL. That's not really that hard to understand, either. After all, in those 11 years, he's played for six different NFL teams.
But if there are two dots that can be connected in the hectic scatter-plot grid that defines the Jets quarterback's career, it's that when he's been teamed up with Chan Gailey, he's had success. They journeyman quarterback just seems to be a glove-like fit in the offensive coordinator's scheme.
And why is that?
"He understands the game. He gets it, not everybody gets it," Gailey said Thursday. "There’s a lot of talented people out there, guys that can run faster, guys that can throw harder, but he understands the game."
This season, Fitzpatrick has started his second tour with Gailey. The two were originally together during Gailey's three-year run as head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2010-2012. During that time, Fitzpatrick had arguably the best three seasons, up until this year, of his career. He threw for 10,236 yards, 71 touchdowns and completed 60 percent of his passes. In his six other NFL seasons, Fitzpatrick thrown just 52 touchdowns.
Gailey was fired by Buffalo on Dec. 31, 2012, and Fitzpatrick was cut a season later. He spent the last two seasons with the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans before being traded to the Jets for a conditional seventh-round pick this offseason.
"[Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, head coach Todd Bowles] asked my opinion about several players and he was one of them," Gailey said when the Jets began looking for a quarterback. "I gave them a good answer."
Through 12 games, Fitzpatrick is putting together easily the best year of his NFL career. He's completing over 60 percent of his passes, and has thrown for 2,866 yards with 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. If he continues on this pace, he'll tie the Jets franchise record with 29 touchdown passes in a season.
To many outside of the Jets franchise, Fitzpatrick's successes this year have taken them by surprise. Heck, even some of Fitzpatrick's teammates have been taken back a bit by "Fitz Magic." But for Gailey, he never doubted what the quarterback could do when given an opportunity to do so.
"He has a great ability to adjust to the people that play on the field with him," Gailey said. "He can adjust to a different receiver, if we’ve got a different kind of receiver he can make the adjustment. If we have a different kind of running back, he can make the adjustment.
"That’s what makes him unique in my book."