The New York Jets return to the scene of the crime on Thursday night in a Primetime game against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. Both teams are trying to avoid falling to 0-2, and are trying to get a pivotal division and conference win that could have playoff implications down the road. For this week’s #PickSix, I took 6 of your Twitter questions as we barrel towards the Thursday kickoff. Like a Case Keenum Monday night pass, let’s take this one back…
1. If the Jets fall to 0-2 how long is Ryan’s leash?- @2SMART4
I think Ryan Fitzpatrick has a longer leash than some of us think he deserves or should have, but the Jets paid him $12 million dollars to start and he had a productive season last year in this offense. I think that the Jets having a later than usual bye actually gives Fitzpatrick until then (so 9 more weeks should they fall to 0-2.) if Bowles is entertaining a change, it’ll be because the Jets are 2-8 and entirely out of it. I don’t think Bowles makes a change to save the season, which kind of speaks to the stubbornness I alluded to while going over this week’s #LeftOvers.
What will be interesting to watch is whether the media begins to turn on Fitzpatrick if he continues to play poorly. There have been very few beat writers willing to call Fitzpatrick out for his poor play, not just this past week but during his entire tenure in New York, and you wonder if that starts to change if he lays another poor performance on Thursday. The next question then becomes whether Bowles let’s those media calls shorten Fitzpatrick’s leash.
2. is it possible that there is a blueprint to defend Fitzpatrick and this offense?- @TalkJetsRadio
Two different questions honestly, and I’ll explain the first before answering the more important second.
With Fitzpatrick, the M-O has always been that you just bide your time and he will make a mistake. The belief is that he is so irrationally confident that hitting him doesn’t really shake his belief in himself and that when he is hot he is hot. Even when he is off, Fitzpatrick thinks he can make every throw. His supporters will have you believe he is better than what he really is, and his play is that of a player that thinks that himself. So, no, to defend Fitz there is no blueprint because even Bills fans will tell you that throwing interceptions is what he does best.
With this offense, the Patriots and the Bengals have now done the two best jobs in the year Marshall has been here of defending this Jets offense. Keep in mind that Matt Forte went for over 150 total yards and that Quincy Enunwa had 7 catches. However, they bracketed Marshall with a safety over the top and were physical at the line of scrimmage with both Marshall and Eric Decker. Fitzpatrick locked on to Marshall way too many times and, as Edward pointed out in this week’s context stats, almost predetermined what his read would be.
He does this a lot, so even if Marshall could be open on some routes Fitz is locked on to him and the defenders know where the ball is going. The Jets did a really good job in the second matchup against NE last year of scheming Marshall open, and they need to do that this week as well. The blueprint seems to be that if you take away Marshall, Fitzpatrick then has to actually play QB and he isn’t very good at that when Marshall can’t bail him out.
3. Can this be a turning point in the season? i know its very early but this game seems to have a “control your fate” feel to it.- @JordanNoDiddy_
The first 6 games, on paper, are the toughest on the Jets schedule so if I said to you that the Jets will be 4-2 after the first 6 you’d take it I imagine. This game has to be one of the 4 they get though. On a short week against a banged up Bills team after you had a tough loss should actually favor you. The Bills offensive line struggled with a Ravens defense that isn’t the Ravens defense of old, so I’m sure the Jets defensive line is chomping at the bit. If the Jets win this game, they will then have 10 days to prepare for a trip to Arrowhead to battle the Chiefs. That’s a better trip to take being 1-1 than it is being 0-2 and stating down the barrel of a 0-3 start. After that they host a Seattle team that struggled at home against a bad Miami team. So, yes, if the Jets can pull off this victory and get to 2-2 or 3-1 after the Seattle game then this could be the game that propels them.
4. Have to settle this, in 4 man fronts whose the most adept to switch inside with McClendon out of Mo/Leo/Shells?- @CharlieCraviero
This is a good question and highlights the versatility of this defensive line that there probably isn’t a wrong answer here. I’m inclined to say Leonard Williams is better suited to play inside when the Jets go to 4 man fronts. I think McClendon is both an excellent 3-4 0 technique (a Nose Tackle) and the same skills that make him a good NT make him a good 4-3 1 technique (a 4-3 DT) because he can take on double teams and take advantage of single coverage should teams decide to do that.
With that said, Williams is the perfect 3-tech (4-3 pass rushing tackle) because of his improving prowess as a pass rusher. The Jets ran a lot of 4-3 under looks against the Bengals where the formation was designed to isolate the weak side guard 1-on-1 with, in this case, Williams. Williams beat his man repeatedly and is displaying vast improvement as a pass rusher at a younger age than Muhammed Wilkerson did. He was already stout against the run, but because of how much better he is as a pass rusher and how good Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are as the ends Williams makes the most sense to slide inside.
5. With the Bills losing their left tackle, should the Jets blitz less relying on their elite front and double Watkins all game?- @JetNation13
I hope so is my short answer. I think the Jets would be wise to use the blueprint the Giants used against Dak Prescott in week 1 where, instead of blitzing, they relied on their defensive line to contain and tried to clog the throwing lanes. This limits an elusive quarterback’s ability to take off and it makes it harder for a young QB to progress through his reads because his throwing lanes are full of bodies. The Jets did a really good job both matchups last year of limiting Taylor’s legs and hitting him enough that he started to get a quick trigger finger. This resulted in a lot of 3-4 yard routes and a 6.1 yard per attempt average with very few big plays. I don think the Jets will double Watkins all game, but I think you will see a lot more looks designed to eliminate the shorter throws that Watkins feasted on last year. I would watch for the Jets mix in more zone this week, with a couple of Cover 2 Flats looks where the defensive backs are covering an area as oppose to a player. I think that’s the adjustment the Jets make, while allowing their front 4 to win their matchups and get pressure on Taylor.
6. Reading a lot of tweets trying to pin loss on 1 guy. So many Jets played poorly! Why do fans need a bad guy?? – @BrownGiraffe
This speaks to 1) the overall nature of being a fan in this era of social media as oppose to in years past and 2) everyone needing to assign blame to one person as oppose to a bunch of people. Social media, if you read our EIC’s piece in AdWeek a couple of months ago regarding this exact phenomenon, has been incredibly vital to both the sustainability and marketability of players that otherwise no one would know about. Due to this, it is easier to formulate an opinion about a player without actually ever seeing him play because the narrative has been spun and spread throughout all avenues. So if a player is acquired by your favorite team, and he has been on a few teams before then, chances are that your opinion of said player has been formulated in part because of the narrative spun on social media about him/her. Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick are two examples of that.
If Fitzpatrick plays poorly, and you knew he fleeced the Bills for $55M and kind of thought he was terrible already, then he’s an easy target when the Jets lose because it partly fits your social media driven narrative. The same principal applies to Marshall; look no further than when his scuffle with Revis was mentioned, the media did not hesitate to bring up how he had worn out his welcome on other teams. If the Jets struggle through the rest of the year, get ready to have those two guys (mainly Fitzpatrick) be the main culprits because it fits into the narrative easily.
Personally, I think the QB is the leader of the team and if you want all the praise then you can take all the blame. All summer, some Jets fans pretended that Fitzpatrick was the only one responsible for the offense playing the way they did or that he deserved more credit than the two WRs who have actually proven they can play without him. It kind of lends itself to the bigger point about his importance in comparison to the rest of the team. Some games don’t require blame, but this past Sunday wasn’t one of those games. Fitzpatrick played poorly outside of the first quarter scoring drive and a couple of other throws, and he needs to clean that up because he’s the starting QB on this team.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com