One guy was the top pick in the NFL Draft, the other was the 250th pick one year later. One guy has been the anchor of the same franchise for more than a decade and hasn’t missed a start since midway through his rookie year; the other has always been a stopgap, with whichever team he’s on always looking for someone better (which may be why he’s now on his sixth team).
One guy has two Super Bowls, both times beating the mighty Patriots -- and nearly insurmountable odds. The other, who only got the starting nod to begin the season because of a jaw-shattering sucker punch, has an unsightly career record of 40-60-1.
One guy is the best QB in the Big Apple. And it’s the "other" guy.
I know, Eli Manning will probably end up in the Hall of Fame one day. And no, you can’t take away his two rings -- I’m pretty sure that’s a felony, given the fact that each one is worth more than the average New York City apartment.
Still, I’d take the 33-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick over the 34-year-old Manning because, at this point in their respective careers, Fitz makes more good plays when it really counts -- like on the three late-game scoring drives he led in Sunday's 23-20 Jet win -- and less dumb ones. The Amish Rifle (yes, even his nickname is better than Eli’s, which is … what exactly? Peyton’s Baby Brother?) appears to improve every year and is currently playing the best football of his decade-long career.
Manning, meanwhile, still seems to play like a rookie sometimes, like when the Giants QB ended a drive so long it required an intermission with a boneheaded INT 3 yards from the goal line. Yeah, we keep hearing about how Rueben Randle broke off the route. Come on, he couldn’t have caught that pass if he were the Matrix.
And while Eli can’t get out of his own way when things break down, Fitz makes plays with his feet -- though the Rickey Henderson slide is ill-advised.
It’s not like Fitzpatrick was perfect Sunday. But he was more than good enough, unlike most of the team. The offensive line was awful, allowing constant pressure from a Giants front that has been abysmal throughout the year, with DE Jason Pierre-Paul wielding his well-shielded right hand like a club. The Jets’ special teams was even worse, as Big Blue returner Dwayne Harris shredded the coverage on both punts and kickoffs. And Gang Green’s D, with its banged-up secondary, was barely OK.
While Fitzpatrick now has the Jets in contention for a playoff spot, there’s already been a lot of talk about who will be under center for the franchise in 2016, with some of it centering on Drew Brees, among others. Obviously, like Manning, Brees is headed for Canton. Still, if I’m Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles, one position I’m not looking to upgrade in the offseason is quarterback -- except maybe for someone to back up Fitz.