Quickhit: More Costly Interceptions for Ryan Fitzpatrick

NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

Down only seven early in the fourth quarter, the New York Jets had a legitimate chance to pull an upset off against the Seattle Seahawks. They had started a decent drive, and had the ball around mid-field, hoping to drive down the field and tie the game. Then Ryan Fitzpatrick did what he does best.

Throw costly interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Just like his interceptions last week, and many of the ones throughout his career, this was another example of Fitzpatrick throwing a ball where he shouldn’t have and it getting intercepted. Bilal Powell (#29) lined up beside Fitzpatrick in the backfield, while Brandon Marshall (#15)  up on top with Richard Sherman (#25) across him. We are going to address the bottom of the formation as much as Fitzpatrick did on this play and just ignore it.

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Upon the snap, Powell ran an out route and was picked up by KJ Wright (#50) in the flat. It looks as though Fitzpatrick looked towards Powell first and saw that he was covered and chose to throw the ball elsewhere. Elsewhere being the next receiver that entered his vision, Marshall. Marshall ran a vertical route and was being locked up by Sherman the whole way. Fitzpatrick attempts a back shoulder throw, a pass that makes it extremely hard for a corner to make a play on the ball. Marshall was turned around and unaware though, and Sherman jumps the route for an easy interception.

Fitzpatrick had good protection on the play as his offensive line managed to handle the four Seahawks who rushed on the play.

He did not allow any of his receivers to let their routes truly develop, and ignored an entire side of the field. There was no reason to force a pass downfield, as it was first down anyways. Fitzpatrick just through it where ever he wanted not caring for the ball, and it costed his team.

The Jets quarterback now has thrown 10 interceptions in the first four games of the season, no one other than him and Jameis Winston (8) have more than 6. He threw three in this game, all in the fourth quarter, and let the game get out of reach for the Jets.

A Jets team that hoped to fight for a playoff spot this season find themselves at 1-3 so far this season, and all though the losses have come against tough teams, it may be time for them to evaluate their personnel at all positions on the field, especially quarterback.

 

Header via GettyImages

The Jets Have a Ryan Fitzpatrick Problem

Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Ryan Fitzpatrick is usually a serviceable NFL quarterback. Fitzpatrick was only a game away from leading the New York Jets to a surprise playoff appearance last season, and if not for an implosion in the final quarter of his 2015 campaign, they would have played in January.

In the Jets matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, Fitzpatrick yet again imploded, throwing 6 interceptions, a total that could have been much higher if the Chiefs defensive backs could come down with many of the balls thrown directly to them. It was easily the worst performance we have seen by any quarterback this season, and a performance that has the Jets wondering if Fitzpatrick is the man to take them the next step to reach the postseason this year.

Fitzpatrick’s first interception came late in the first quarter.

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On third and long the Chiefs knew the Jets would look to pass downfield, and had five defensive backs drop into coverage.The Chiefs lined up man to man on the four Jets receivers, with Eric Berry lined up as a deep safety.

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The pass rush quickly enclosed around Fitzpatrick, and he forced the ball towards Jalin Marshall to avoid the sack. Marcus Peters jumps the route, and comes up with and interception.

The main factor that led to the interception is the pass rush of the Chiefs, and the Jets offensive line failing to protect their quarterback. Chiefs defensive lineman Allen Bailey did not meet much resistance on his way into the backfield, and man handled Jets guard James Carpenter. Ryan Clady gave the Chiefs Tamba Hali a little more trouble on the edge, but Hali still managed to put a hit on Fitzpatrick right after he released the ball.

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Kansas City’s pass rush forced Fitzpatrick to act quickly on the play, and he never even had a chance to look away from his primary receiver. Fitzpatrick immediately looked towards Marshall once the ball was snapped, and looked at him the whole way as the rush reached him and he quickly dispatched the ball even if it meant throwing into danger. If he had looked elsewhere, though, there was not much for him to see. Quincy Enunwa was the only Jets receiver to get any sort of separation on the play, and Eric Berry was lurking behind him.

Fitzpatrick’s next interception didn’t come until late in the third quarter, but for this one the blame is entirely put on him.

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The Chiefs chose to play zone coverage on a second and goal play from their own 6 yard line, and Fitzpatrick didn’t read it at all. He had good protection in front of him, and first looked towards Enunwa in the corner of the end zone, but Marcus Peters was all over him. Instead of going through his progressions, he chose to force the ball right over the middle towards Marshall, ignoring the fact that linebacker Derrick Johnson was right in between them. Johnson got a hand on the ball, tipped it into the air, and Eric Berry came down with an interception.

This play is yet another testament to how well the Chiefs coverage was all day on Sunday. Enunwa, the primary receiver on the play, was dealt with in one corner, and Eric Decker was jammed up by Steven Nelson on the opposite side of the field forcing Fitzpatrick to look towards the middle of the field. Billal Powel ran an out route, but was immediately smothered by Hali. Johnson, Berry, Frank Zombo and Ron Parker were all positioned in the middle of the field to deal with both Jalin and Brandon Marshall.

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None of the Jets receivers could find any sort of space in such a short field, and every Chief that dropped into coverage fulfilled their assignment.

Ryan Fitzpatrick still has to do more on the play, though and its’s even more surprising how hard he tried to force the ball, seeing what happened on first down. Despite Johnson being perfectly positioned to make a play on the ball, he decides to throw it over the middle anyways.

The Jets quarterback obviously does not learn from his mistakes to well, as on the previous play he tried to lob it into the corner of the end zone despite Eric Berry being in the area. The result:

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He got away with one, but instead of considering it a blessing and being more careful with the ball he made sure the Chiefs got the interception that they deserved on the previous play.

Forcing the ball into coverage, more so into the end zone, seems to be Fitzpatrick’s Achilles heel. He cannot resist throwing the ball towards his primary receiver at times, no matter what is between him and his target.

His next interception again came near the end zone. The Chiefs pass rush yet again tramples the Jets offensive line, and Fitzpatrick is forced to step up in the pocket to avoid Hali, and right before Hali and Jaye Howard reach him, he zips it towards Enunwa.

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Unfortunately, Steven Nelson is all over Enunwa, makes a play on the ball tipping it into the air and it gets intercepted by Marcus Peters once again. Fitzpatrick get a bit of leeway as he was going to the ground, but if he wanted Enunwa to actually catch that ball it had to be towards his stomach instead of just over his head. The best option, though, would have been to just throw it into the ground at Enunwa’s feet, and again try again on third down.

 

Yet again, Fitzpatrick did not learn from an error on the previous play. Fitzpatrick tried to force the ball to Enunwa on a slant route on first down, but had to throw it a little in front of him to avoid coverage by Nelson.

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Nelson still got a hand on the ball though, and Eric Berry was there as well in what proved to be a dangerous pass.

Fitzpatricks issues with forcing the ball into coverage, especially into the end zone, may have been what costed the Jets their playoff spot last season.

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The Jets were only trailing by two and within field goal range in a game they needed to win in order to go to the playoffs, as long as they do not turn the ball over they should have at least taken a one point lead. Instead, Fitzpatrick stared his receiver down the whole way and threw into coverage.

His fourth interception, albeit not occurring anywhere near the end zone, was another example of Fitzpatrick repeatedly not taking care of the ball.

On first down he tried to force a ball to Erick Decker deep, despite safety Drew Sorensen being in the area, Sorensen breaks up the play but if he was there a step earlier the Chiefs would have had the ball back.

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On third and ten, Fitzpatrick over threw Eric Decker on a corner route despite having Steven Nelson all over him and with Berry lurking near bye.

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Berry nearly comes up with an interception.

On the very next play, Fitzpatrick overthrows Brandon Marshall on a fade. Nelson was yet again in coverage and the lurking Daniel Sorensen (again) came up with an interception on the sideline.

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Yet again, Fitzpatrick was stuck on Marshall the whole play. He starred him down the entire route and was deadest on throwing the ball to him no matter what. Brandon Marshall had run a crossing route and had a bit of separation from Nelson who was covering him.

Fitzpatrick zeroed in on the on Marshall had, and did not account for the safety, Sorensen, running towards the sideline.

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He slightly overthrows Marshall and has his fourth interception of the day.

 

Interception #5 was yet another example of Fitzpatrick zeroing in a receiver and throwing it to him no matter what.

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Matt Forte ran a wheel route out the backfield, and was literally the only receiver that was given any attention by the Jets quarterback. Decker and Robby Anderson both ran routes on the other side of the field, and Brandon Marshall was open for a short completion that would have gotten a first down.

Fitzpatrick, though, was more interested in the back of Matt Forte’s head, and chose to throw it towards his running back. Derrick Johnson jumps the route and takes it back for a Chiefs score. Even if Johnson was not there, though, the ball would have just sailed out of bounds behind Forte, who did not turn around until after the ball had been intercepted.

Interception #6 was another forced pass by Fitzpatrick into the end zone late in the game. At this point though it was in vain, already down 21 points with two minutes to go, he may have just wanted to give rookie DJ White his first NFL interception.

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There is obviously a deep underlying issue in Fitzpatrick’s decision making. He is a very skilled quarterback, and still deserves to be starting over the likes of Geno Smith, but is not the man for the Jets in the future if he does not work on this. He is good enough to beat lesser teams, but the Jets hope to compete in the playoffs this year, and will play other defenses on par with the Chiefs if they make it that far. The Jets are now 1-2, and if Fitzpatrick, mentally, does not get better, they will yet again be spending January at home.

 

Header photo via New York Jets

How the Bengals Burned the Jets

Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Despite the efforts of the New York Jets defensive line to beat up and harass Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton Sunday, the Jets secondary still managed to get repeatedly beaten deep, eventually costing the Jets the game. The Jets secondary got torched throughout, and mistakes by multiple players costed them in the end.

Play One:

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Andy Dalton 56 yard pass to CJ Uzomah

The Bengals lined up in a three receiver set, with AJ Green (#18) lined up on top against the Jets Darrelle Revis (#24). Alongside Green is Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd (#83), alone on the other side for the Bengals of the field is Brandon LaFell (#11). Dalton is the backfield with Jeremy Hill (#32), with CJ Uzomah (#87) lined up on the end of the left side of the line.

The Jets line up with a lone safety, Marcus Gilchrist (#21), with his fellow safety Calvin Pryor (#25) lined up as a “Money Back” alongside linebackers Darron Lee (#50) and David Harris (#52). Buster Skrine (#41) lines up across Boyd.

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The Bengals ran a simple “4 vert” play with Jeremy Hill running an out route. Hill gets picked up by Harris immediately, but Dalton’s focus was down field. The Jets secondary used man coverage, and Gilchrist began to tread towards his right, most likely attracted by AJ Green. Pryor and Lee both immediately pick up Uzomah, but Pryor shifts his attention towards LaFell, who is also being covered by Williams. This leads to a mismatch between Uzomah and Lee, and Lee gets beaten down field.

Dalton completes the pass to Uzomah around the 45 yard line, Williams whiffs on his tackle attempt, Lee misses an open field tackle and Skrine gets nudged from behind by Boyd throwing him off-balance causing him to also miss. Williams eventually recovers and makes the tackle, but not before a 56 yard gain by the Bengals.

What Went Wrong

Pryor’s decision to cover LaFell was questionable at best. LaFell is faster than Pryor, and he was lined up in the box, giving LaFell a huge head start anyways. Williams was well positioned to deal with LaFell from the snap, and covered LaFell well on his route. Gilchrist also made a mistake at the beginning of the play, instantly going towards Green, leaving the entire middle of the field open, and allowing Uzomah to run straight down the middle for a huge gain.  Right after the catch, Williams chose to play the ball instead of going for a safe tackle and missed leading to Uzomah doing even more damage.

Play 2

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Andy Dalton 54 yard touchdown pass to AJ Green

The Bengals line up in another three receiver set, with Boyd and Green at the top of the screen and LaFell alone at the bottom. Uzomah is on the right end of the line. Dalton is now under center with Gio Bernard (#25) in the backfield.

Skrine is initially lined up on Green, with Revis on Boyd, but Boyd motions towards the bottom, and he shifts over allowing Revis to cover Green. Williams is yet again on LaFell. Lorenzo Mauldin (#55) and Harris are the Jets edge defenders, both playing man coverage. Their counterpart, Darron Lee is in zone coverage. Calvin Pryor is lined up as a deep safety.

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As Boyd motions left before the snap the Jets shift their assignments putting Skrine into zone coverage alongside Lee. Dalton runs a play fake to Bernard, and Bernard runs into the flat to be picked up by Harris, Mauldin picks up Boyd on the opposite flat. LaFell runs a crossing route over the middle, as Green runs a vertical. Revis does a good job keeping up with Green, and with help from Pryor should have taken away Dalton’s deep option.

Unfortunately for Revis, the rest of the Jets and their collective fan base, Pryor was lost on the play. Pryor begins to back pedal after the snap, but was distracted by LaFell running through the middle of the field. There is a split second where Pryor is literally just standing there as AJ Green runs by him, and he and Revis are beaten for a deep touchdown.

What Went Wrong

A lot of the obvious blame goes on to Pryor. He falls asleep of the play and allows Green to go right by him. The Jets also made another mistake in coverage up the field though. Both Skrine and Lee are covering the middle of the field, and neither drop back to help Williams on LaFell. If Lee had dropped back towards LaFell, Pryor could have focused entirely on Green and possibly forced Dalton elsewhere, maybe towards Boyd who had room in the flat, but was staring down Mauldin.

Play 3

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Andy Dalton 49 yard pass to Brandon LaFell

 

After losing eight yards on first down and an incompletion on second, the Bengals elected to hurry in to their next snap. On a third and 18 play the Bengals rushed their snap and caught the entire Jets defense (and CBS who was late coming out of a game break) off guard. The Jets entire defensive line was caught standing and the secondary took a moment to find their bearings after the ball was snapped.

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LaFell sprinted down the sideline and found himself in single coverage against Williams who he easily beat one on one. Pryor was the lone safety and was way too far away to have an effect on the play. If LaFell had gotten away from Williams it would have been an easy score.

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From this angle you can see every single member of the Jets defensive line getting to the line late, and getting caught off by the snap.

What Went Wrong

The Jets were not at all lined up for this play and an execution error costed them heavily. They would never recover on the drive as the Bengals continued to push the tempo before eventually scoring a touchdown.

Play 4

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Andy Dalton 32 yard pass to AJ Green

Sometimes a great player is just going to make an amazing play and that’s what happened here. Green runs a fly down the sideline, and he amazingly catches a well placed ball by Dalton. Even with Revis on top of him, Green completes the catch. Revis might have been able to do better, but this play is more attributed to the athletic ability of Green not a mistake by Revis.

 

 

Despite giving up a few big plays throughout the game, the Jets nearly won their week one match-up against the Bengals, falling on a late field goal. The Jets secondary, though, has a lot to work on during the short week heading into their Thursday night match-up against the Bills. Their pass coverage was awful, with every defensive back, save none other than Calvin Pryor, playing terribly throughout the game. Pryor, as mentioned earlier, made a few key mistakes that heavily costed the team marring what might have been a decent performance for him. The Jets do have a lot to look forward too, though. The Bills are not nearly the team that the Bengals are in terms of offensive weapons, and their front seven did its job of shutting down the run and pressuring Dalton when he dropped back to pass, accumulating seven sacks.

 

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