New York Jets Passing Game Breakdown, Week 12

Joe Caporoso breaks down the film on the New York Jets passing game in their week 12 over the Miami Dolphins

Welcome back to another edition of the New York Jets passing game breakdown. You can check out last week’s right here. The New York Jets got back on track against the AFC East’s Punching Bag with a simplified attack led by Brandon Marshall’s best overall game of the season and a big outing from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Don’t hesitate to leave any questions below or over on Twitter. On to the #TAPE…

The Game Plan: The Jets weren’t shy about throwing to open up the run in this game and were able to take advantage of a poorly designed Dolphins defense. Miami repeatedly left their corners in single, man coverage with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to take advantage by sticking with their bread and butter routes. This wasn’t the prettiest game running the football (29 carries, 116 yards, 1 TD for the backs) but they were able to pop three runs over 15 yards and regularly keep the chains moving. On the first play of the game, their offensive line set the tone with this beauty.

When throwing the ball, it was the Brandon Marshall show. After Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an early slant route behind him, Marshall caught 9 of his next 10 targets for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. To be blunt, he completely dominated the Dolphins secondary and in particular Brent Grimes. Eric Decker dropped a walk in touchdown but beyond that was his normal effective self with 5 catches for 62 yards and a third quarter touchdown. This was also a productive game for Quincy Enunwa and Devin Smith, as we will get into a bit later.

The Quarterback: This was probably Fitzpatrick’s best game of the season. Most importantly, he didn’t have any turnovers and had a lower than usual amount of near or “should be” interceptions. He didn’t slide but he protected the football when scrambling and generally avoided any big hits. Fitzpatrick went 22/37 for 277 yards on the day with 4 touchdowns, bringing his season total to 20 touchdown passes with a 58.5 completion percentage and a 6.9 yards per attempt (23rd in NFL). Needless to say if the Jets get this version of Fitzpatrick in the final five games, they have a good chance to be playing in January.

Fitzpatrick has struggled with the seam route all season. Below, he predetermines his throw to Quincy Enunwa and sails it, nearly leading to an interception for the safety. Later in the game, he threw over the wrong shoulder when targeting Enunwa on a similar route, leading to a punt.

On another missed third down, Fitzpatrick oddly decided to throw a clear out to Bilal Powell down the sideline instead of taking an open Eric Decker on the option route just past the 30 yard line. Considering it was 3rd and 6, Fitzpatrick should have taken the higher percentage throw instead of a low percentage down the sideline attempt to his running back (who dropped it). This is one of those plays people yell about Chan Gailey without realizing that the play was designed for Decker and Fitzpatrick just made the wrong read.

On the positive, Fitzpatrick made his best deep ball throw of the season for a 47 yard gain to Brandon Marshall. Thanks to a perfectly blocked pocket, he sets his feet and throws the ball more on a line than he usually does, allowing him to hit Marshall in stride for the big play.

On Marshall’s first touchdown, Fitzpatrick recognizes the single coverage he is seeing in the slot and that the one high safety won’t have enough time to break on the corner route. He drops in a perfect throw that allows Marshall to make a play well before the safety can break on him.

Further credit to Fitzpatrick for regularly being able to take advantage of the poor decisions Miami made with their coverage. Here they give Decker a free release and allow him to navigate their zone defense untouched into a huge window for an easy 24 yard gain. On Brandon Marshall’s second touchdown, Fitzpatrick saw Miami was going to leave him one on one and he properly checked to the fade route for an easy score.

The Receivers: As discussed earlier, Marshall was dominant and the reason he was dominant was not complicated. Miami has nobody who can cover him, particularly not Brent Grimes. They routinely gave him up match-ups like this which he exploited for big chunks of yardage. He caught a few of these comeback routes from split end to go with the go route, slot corner and fade route shown above. This has been the Jets most productive route this season, along Decker’s option route from the slot, and the Dolphins gave it to them on a silver platter.

Devin Smith had a nice step towards quieting those Jets fans who have decided he is Stephen Hill already and making those who have defended him look smart (thanks, Devin!) with a 16 and 17 yard catch on Sunday. The first was an easy pitch and catch on a short in-cut. You don’t like to see him catching with his body (the sign of a receiver who isn’t confident in his hands at the moment) but this is a nice spin move to pick up 10+ yards of YAC. On the other hand, his touchdown was the play of a guy at full confidence. He shows terrific burst off the line and through his cut and most importantly attacks the ball with his hands while shielding off the defender for the score.

The Quincy: The Jets H-Back/Tight End/Wide Receiver gets his own section this week because he has played awesome football the past two weeks. Besides being a cut blocking machine on the edge (see the first GIF of the Ivory run in this article), Enunwa made a pair of nice grabs on Sunday including this 18 yarder off a deep out cut. The versatility and blocking consistency he brings to the offense is critical and he does a great job running his clear out and “pick” routes, as shown again on Decker’s touchdown. This might sound like a minor thing until you remember Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland nearly tackling Decker in a similar situation when Enunwa wasn’t around. Appreciate your Quincy, Jets fans.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports