The New York Jets continued to struggle offensively this past Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, namely when it came to throwing the football. This passing offense is broken right now and the problems go well beyond the turnovers. Why are the Jets failing? Let’s take a closer look at the tape…
The Game Plan: Chan Gailey has not done great work through four games this season but he remains a secondary problem to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets came out in this game with a well scripted first drive that should have ended in a touchdown but did not, because of a missed open receiver (we’ll get to that later). This was a recurring theme throughout the game, there were players getting open, either from their route running or from smart scheming, the quarterback was just routinely ignoring them or inaccurately targeting them.
Gailey’s bigger problems were in the running game. There was a lack of imagination and poor usage of Matt Forte, who was repeatedly being slammed into the A gap without successful results. The jets only executed one screen and did not do a job of being versatile or creative with how Forte was being deployed. Where are the sets that feature him and Bilal Powell alongside each other?
Finally, Gailey needs to scrap the Jets third and long screen to Powell, which they have ran 1,800 times over the past two seasons. Teams are fully on it now. Fitzpatrick has severe arm limitations so screens on third and long make sense but at least package it differently.
The Jets inefficiency when targeting Brandon Marshall remains a big problem. He only caught 4 of his 12 targets and that is mostly on the quarterback. Quincy Enunwa remained effective, catching 6 of his 7 targets and Powell had his best all around game, pulling in 6 of his 9 targets for 54 yards. This was also an encouraging extended debut for Charone Peake and Robby Anderson, both of whom showed impressive route running ability.
The Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick had another difficult day at the office, finishing 23/41 for 261 yards with 3 interceptions and 1 touchdown. He is now 31st in the NFL in completion percentage, 24th in yards per attempt, and a distant first in interceptions. He has been the worst starting quarterback in the league through the first quarter of the season.
The interceptions, ironically, may be the least of Fitzpatrick’s problems right now. It is his continued inaccuracy and poor field vision which is dooming the Jets offense.
On the Jets first drive, Gailey designed a near masterful opening script. On the play below, it is 2nd and 5 from Seattle’s 26 yard line. The Jets go 5 wide with Bilal Powell split out to the far left, Brandon Marshall inside of him and Charone Peake as the tight slot. On the backside, the Jets have Robby Anderson on the outside and Quincy Enuwna in the slot.
Peake runs a deep waggle route to the far hash, the outside receivers run hitch routes, Enunwa runs a jerk route and is targeted for a 11 yard gain. Meanwhile, Marshall streaks down the numbers wide open on a seam route. Call it smart play design. Call it a defensive breakdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t know because he never takes his eyes off Enunwa. A novice would watch this play on the broadcast cam and congratulate Fitzpatrick for a 11 yard completion. The reality is the Jets just failed to get 7 points being handed to them on a silver platter.
When the Jets had a defensive breakdown, Russell Wilson found Seattle’s 7th option in the passing game for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick couldn’t even find one of the league’s best receivers wide open when Seattle returned the favor.
Later in the same drive, Fitzpatrick shows poor field and situational awareness. It is 2nd 7 from the Seattle 12 and the Jets protection is holding up well against a 3 man rush. Fitzpatrick has an open receiver in a tight window at the 6 yard line. He ignores him and scrambles to his left and then instead of throwing the ball away, takes a sack for a 4 yard loss. There is no excuse to take a loss here, don’t compound missing the open receiver by not throwing the football away.
This 41 yard completion to Brandon Marshall needs to be a touchdown. Marshall absolutely cooks one of the league’s premier corners off the line of scrimmage and is 3 yards behind him with no safety in striking distance. Since the pass is behind him, Marshall needs to stop, allowing this to be just a 41 yard gain and a drive the Jets got no points from.
You cannot leave points on the field when you are playing a good team like Seattle. When your best beats their best, you need to convert. Marshall had 89 yards in this game with 1 touchdown. He should have had 189 with 3 touchdowns with competent quarterback play.
In the second half, rookie Robby Anderson worked himself open on a nine route on 3rd and long. This is not an easy task. This should be an in stride touchdown, instead look where Anderson had to reach back for the football.
Again, this was an opportunity for points left on the field. The Jets have talented receivers who are working themselves open but the ball is not getting there. Yes, Anderson had a play on the ball he didn’t come down with but your 11 year veteran should not be hanging your rookie UDFA out to dry like this. Later in the game, Anderson runs by Sherman, one of the league’s best defenders but Fitzpatrick overshoots him.
The interceptions were uneventful. On the first one, Fitzpatrick simply went back to well one too many times on the back shoulder throw to Brandon Marshall when targeting Richard Sherman. Nobody is forcing Fitzpatrick to make this throw, one play after he completed the same pass. The timing is also off, along with the placement. Remember, this was a 17-10 game in the 4th quarter, this play was the beginning of the end for the Jets.
On the last two, Fitzpatrick was victimized by a Robby Anderson drop on a slightly high throw and then threw in another garbage time interception. He is on pace for 40 this season, which would give him a historically incompetent year in the NFL record books.
The Peake: Rookie Charone Peake deserves a mention for putting together a solid outing in his NFL debut. He consistently demonstrated precise, solid route running and caught all 3 passes he was targeted on. Below, he has a great job working across the formation, extending his hands and making a tough catch in traffic. The Jets should be encouraged by what they saw from both him and Anderson in extended action.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com