The New York Jets put on one of their better aerial shows in recent memory this past Thursday against the Buffalo Bills. Let’s break down the few things that went wrong and all the beautiful things that went right against Rex Ryan’s steaming heap of trash defense. Check out last week’s breakdown here and let us know any questions in the comment section or over on Twitter. On to the #TAPE…
The Game Plan: After a somewhat skittish start for both Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets settled down into a ruthless downfield attack that repeatedly punished Rex Ryan’s poorly coached defense. You cannot expect your cornerbacks to win one on one against Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa, fortunately for the Jets Rex did…and they made him pay.
In the passing game, the Jets spread the wealth. Brandon Marshall led the team with 9 targets, Eric Decker was right behind him with 8 and Quincy Enunwa tallied 6 despite missing time in the second half with a rib injury. Jalin Marshall registered 4 as well.
In the running game, it remained a one man show. Matt Forte had 30 carries and 3 targets. Bilal Powell had a measly 1 carry to go with 2 targets (both poorly timed shovel passes). Forte has been productive but this type of distribution is not sustainable. Powell also remains too talented and valuable for such little usage.
The Quarterback: It is fair to argue that Ryan Fitzpatrick played the best game of his New York jets career on Thursday night. He carved up the Bills to the tune of 24/34 for 374 yards with a touchdown and zero turnovers. He climbed from 28th in the NFL in yards per attempt to 8th, with his number currently at 8.16, ahead of Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. This was a game built around Ryan Fitzpatrick, attacking and winning, in the down field passing game.
Despite his success, there were still some accuracy and decision making issues. Early in the game, Fitzpatrick has Eric Decker wide open in the flat for a third down conversion and maybe a touchdown. However, he opts for the shovel pass to Bilal Powell instead. There is an option on this play and Decker knows it.
Later, Fitzpatrick is bailed out by Quincy Enunwa, who makes a terrific catch reaching behind him on this deep in-cut. These type of passes can easy be deflected and/or intercepted if not for a terrific play by the receiver.
Finally, it is nobody’s fault but Jalin Marshall that he fumbled on this play. However, on this in-cut, the fact that the throw is so far behind him, forced him to jump to catch it and leads him into contact. These are little things but they can have major consequences.
On to the positives, Fitzpatrick has struggled with the “nine” route throughout his career and especially last season. The nine is a simple go/vertical route, generally ran by the outside receiver. A good throw keeps the receiver in bounds and puts the ball in position where he can make a play on it. These are exceptional catches by Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, respectively, but Fitzpatrick is doing his job by putting it in a position where his guys can make a play.
Fitzpatrick has developed impressive consistency with his back shoulder throws as well. The first one to Brandon Marshall has turned into clockwork for this Jets offense.
However, the second one to rookie Jalin Marshall on a critical third down is that much more impressive. This shows a high amount of faith in the rookie, who makes a great play on the ball but the timing and placement is perfect. This is the Jets fourth or fifth option, a UDFA, beating the Bills alleged number one corner.
Fitzpatrick was locked in with Decker all night as well. Both of the plays below were third down conversions, where the Jets took advantage of him being able to get a clean release and be isolated in single coverage. These are well timed throws by Fitzpatrick that ate up big chunks of yardage against the Bills defense. Decker continues to victimize defenses from the slot position and on this particular night, it looked the Ryan brothers watched about 8 seconds of film to prepare for it.
The Decker: A moment of appreciation for Eric Decker, who went over 100 yards but probably should have had closer to 200, if the referees didn’t erase a 50+ yard grab from him because of a silly taunting penalty. He also cooks the cornerback below on an out and up route, this should be a 65 yard touchdown with a better throw but still picks up a big gain.
Decker has been a model of consistency since coming to New York and is very quietly one of the top 15-20 receivers in the NFL. He runs precise routes but is a big play and touchdown machine.
The Quincy: Nobody was more bullish on Enunwa coming into the season than this writer but even I am staggered by how much he has improved. Enunwa was a body catcher with erratic hands coming out of Nebraska, he is now snatching the football out of the air (as seen above on the deep dig route that was behind him), while still being a monster after the catch. This play has no business being a first down but look at what Enunwa is able to do. The ceiling for this guy is scary high.
Young Pup: Jalin Marshall looks nothing like a rookie. He bounced back from his fumble to make two huge catches, including this one which set up a Jets touchdown. He has shown the ability to draw penalties with his route running (in week 1) and now make tough catches in traffic. The Jets found a keeper and they didn’t even use a draft pick on him.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com