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Jets-Buccaneers preview: Reunion with Fitzpatrick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Oct.15,

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Oct.15, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Christian Petersen


Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick faces his former team on Sunday when the Jets visit Raymond James Stadium. It’s not the first time an ex-Jets quarterback has taken on his former team. Three notable matchups:

1. Oct. 11, 2010: After one season with the Jets, Brett Favre played his final season in his desired location, Minnesota. In a Monday Night Football game, the Jets sacked Favre four times, and Dwight Lowery’s pick six was the clinching score of a 29-20 Jets’ victory. Favre threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns, but had one interception and three fumbles. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 21-of-44 passes for 191 yards.

2. Sept. 7, 2008: Chad Pennington took on the man who replaced him — Favre — as the Jets faced the Dolphins in Miami in the season opener. Pennington, who had played eight seasons with the Jets, suffered a 20-14 loss. He completed 26-of-43 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and four sacks. Favre, in his Jets debut, threw for 194 yards with two touchdowns.

3. Nov. 10, 2002: Ray Lucas made 36 starts over a four-year period for the Jets before leaving for the Dolphins in 2001. Lucas didn’t get a start until 2002 when he took on the Jets for the first time. The Jets earned a 13-10 victory as Lucas completed 19-of-28 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown. He was sacked three times. Curtis Martin rushed 19 times for 74 yards with one touchdown for the Jets.


When the Jets face the Buccaneers they may have only four healthy receivers. Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen make up the depth chart. The Jets receiving corps took a hit when Jeremy Kerley was suspended four games for violations of the performance enhancing policy. Despite the lack of experience at receiver — Stewart has just four career catches and Hansen has yet to catch a pass — quarterback Josh McCown doesn’t think things will be problematic.

“No, not necessarily,” McCown said. “They come in there and, like I said, they are being coached well, and when that happens they are going to be where they’re supposed to be and you can trust them to get the timing and all those things. It is just a matter of them knowing where they are supposed to be and lining up right . . . and for the most part they do a really good job with that considering the lack of reps that they’ve had.”


The Jets’ alltime record against the Bucs.


Take-aways for the Jets, the third highest-total in the NFL. With nine interceptions and seven fumbles recovered, the Jets have already surpassed their turnover total from last season — 14 — when they were tied for 28th in the league.


Combined touchdown receptions for Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse (four each) that ties them for fourth among wide receiver duos in the NFL. Anderson, who has caught a scoring pass in each of the last three games, and Kearse, have been targeted a combined 104 times.


The Jets’ defense has become a dancing sensation after 10 of their 11 defensive players were dancing during a break in play in last week’s victory over the Bills. Coach Todd Bowles joked there were no “Soul Train’’ dancers on the team and several players are taking credit for being the best dancer. But can all this dancing become a distraction?

“I don’t think we think about it like that,” said inside linebacker Demario Davis. “You have to continue to do what’s working and continue to show great discipline, continue to work hard. The coaches are putting in a really good game plan. It’s going to require great focus and we just have to work and focus on the details and dot the small things correctly.”


Sunday’s starters at quarterback, Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick, certainly know their way around the NFL. McCown, 38, has played 15 seasons and Fitzpatrick, 34, is a 13-year veteran. McCown has started for six of the eight teams he has played for (he did not start for the Lions in 2006 or the Panthers in 2008-09). Fitzpatrick has played for seven teams and will make his first start of the season for the Bucs on Sunday.

“Yeah, we have the league covered between me and (Fitzpatrick),” McCown said. “The funny thing is both of us having history with the opposing team, so yeah, it’s a unique thing, but it’s part of this business. I know Fitz is a pro, just listening to how these guys talk about him, and I know he’ll be ready to go. I’m sure he’ll play good football, so we have to focus on our end on what we have to do, and it’ll be a fun matchup.”


A Jets’ victory over the Buccaneers moves them to .500 heading into the bye week. In the last five seasons, the Jets have been .500 or better heading into the bye twice, 2015 and 2013. Reaching that mark this season after breaking a three-game losing streak last week against the Bills, seems vital considering what were dismal preseason predictions for the team.

“It’s big to get a win, period,” Jermaine Kearse said. “You’re getting into the crunchtime of the season, the dog days, and you really see where your team is at.”

At the start of the season, the projections were two or three victories and discussions of getting a No. 1 draft pick. Now it’s about competing for a playoff spot, right?

“It’s too early to get into because there’s a lot of football left,” Kearse said. “Just getting each win is important. You never know what happens. This league is crazy.”

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