Rex Ryan kept up a familiar bit at the NFL Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, last week, cheering on the exit of talented players from his division and lamenting those who decided to stay.
"I hope he goes somewhere else, I do," Ryan said last week at the AFC Coaches Breakfast, via ESPN.com. "He's tougher than hell. What's lost in it is, he might have played poorly against us -- it might have been a bad day (in Week 17) -- but I think they won five straight with him and he was lighting it up, probably the most yards in the history of that franchise. We'll see. Like I said, I hope they lose him."
Fitzpatrick lost both starts against Ryan in 2015, and in both games failed to complete more than 50 percent of his passes. He threw five total picks to just four touchdowns and missed the 200-yard mark in both games. The Bills kept the Jets from reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2010 -- under Ryan.
In fact, here are Fitzpatrick's numbers in other games against Rex Ryan since both became AFC East regulars in 2009:
» Oct. 18, 2009: Bills beat Jets 16-13; Fitzpatrick: 10 of 25 (40 percent), 116 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 INT.
» Dec. 3, 2009: Jets beat Bills 19-13; Fitzpatrick: 9 of 23 (39 percent), 98 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 INT.
» Oct. 3, 2010: Jets beat Bills 38-14; Fitzpatrick: 12 of 27 (44 percent), 128 yards, 2 touchdowns 0 INT.
» Nov. 6, 2011: Jets beat Bills 27-11; Fitzpatrick: 15 of 31 (48 percent), 191 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 INT.
» Nov. 27, 2011: Jets beat Bills 28-24; Fitzpatrick: 26 of 39 (67 percent), 264 yards, 3 touchdowns 0 INT.
» Sept. 9, 2012: Jets beat Bills 48-28; Fitzpatrick: 18 of 32 (56 percent), 195 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 INT.
» Dec. 30, 2012: Bills beat Jets 28-9; Fitzpatrick: 12 of 26 (46.15 percent), 225 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 INT.
Ryan has a lot of respect for the game and probably has an inherent respect for Fitzpatrick given his career longevity and history as an underdog. But Ryan also knows his own stats better than just about any coach in the NFL, and he has to walk into games against Fitzpatrick feeling pretty good.
There is a perception of Fitzpatrick that could be underlining his tenure with the Jets, and might be the reason the team has been so hesitant to fork over a balky salary package. As Darryl Slater of NJ.com points out, if you remove the Texans and Bills (2) from New York's schedule in 2015, more than half of their remaining opponents finished 20th or worse in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), a wonderful metric created by Football Outsiders to gauge the true value of a defensive performance.