The New York Jets weekly passing game breakdown is back, after a fairly successful second week AM (After Mornhinweg). Last week’s edition is linked right here. Let’s review how JR Fitz and the Jets air attack did enough to secure a win against a beat up Colts secondary. Feel free to leave questions in the comment section or send them over on Twitter. On to the #TAPE…
The Game Plan: Remember what we said last week about this not being a “spread the wealth” offense and instead being a “we are funneling the ball to our best players” offense? Yeah, that remained the case in week 2. Before leaving with an injury in the 3rd quarter, Eric Decker ate up the Colts from the slot to the tune of 11 targets, 8 receptions, 97 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Marshall added on another 10 targets, 9 receptions, 101 yards and a touchdown. Through two weeks, Marshall and Decker have combined for 57% of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s targets. Despite the Jets struggling to get a push for most of the night and him appearing to be slightly banged up, Chris Ivory still had 16 touches which was matched by 16 from Bilal Powell. It is likely to remain a rarity when anybody besides those four will touch the football.The Jets continued to use three receivers as their base set and to integrate Quncy Enunwa as their primary H-Back. They ran a simple passing game based on attacking the Colts linebackers with Decker before shifting to funnel the ball more to Marshall on the outside after Vontae Davis went down. There was a bit more of a focus on throwing to running backs than last week with Powell and Ivory combining for 7 targets.
The Quarterback: JR Fitz continued to live up to his name against the Colts, finishing 22/34 for 244 yards with 2 TDs and a INT. He was fortunate to get away with a few near interceptions and fell into the bad habit of consistently pre-determining his throws, regardless of what the coverage offered. However, Fitzpatrick was able to ignite a stagnant Jets offense for their biggest drive of the season so far, leading them to a touchdown after the Colts cut the lead to 10-7 in the 4th quarter. His performance was firmly above the SANCHIZE LINE, meaning this will continue to be his job. Credit again to @JJoyJets for the photoshop work below.
Fizpatrick has understandably leaned on Brandon Marshall in the passing game, which has had plenty of positive results but has also led to both his interceptions and nearly a couple more on Monday . On these plays, Fitzpatrick disregarded what the defense gave him and decided before the snap he was throwing to Marshall. On his interception, you can see Eric Decker wide open on a slot curl route.
Here we see a similar situation, where Fitzpatrick forces it to Marshall on a slot corner route despite having the in-cut from the far side split end open.
Later on a 3rd and 5, Fitzpatrick can simply take Bilal Powell on the speed out from the slot instead of forcing a hole shot to Marshall against two high. This is part of Fitzpatrick’s game and something the Jets are going to have to live with but they may not be as fortunate with opposing defenses not making these plays in future weeks.
On the positive end, Fitzpatrick played his best football late in the game when the Jets needed it the most and when exploiting their biggest mismatch, Eric Decker working in the slot. First, this was his best throw of the night, to Quincy Enunwa despite him having dropped two passes earlier. This is a beauty into a tight window and it is encouraging to see him stick with Enunwa despite his early struggles.
The Colts had an odd strategy of dealing with Eric Decker in the slot, which was basically give him a free release and let their linebackers try to cover him. Needless to say, that did not work out well. Fitzpatrick was accurate taking advantage of this match-up, getting the ball to Decker in the open windows and allowing him to turn up field for YAC.
The Wide Receivers: What the Jets did with Eric Decker was exceedingly simple. On nine of his eleven targets, he was in the slot. The only two when he wasn’t in the slot were in the red-zone, one of which was a touchdown. The Jets had Decker run repeated option routes against free releases. He would run to five yards and either break into a speed out, in-cut or hitch route and break into an open window for an easy completion. In the second half, the Colts finally adjusted and pressed him in the slot with man coverage, when that happened he attempted a deep corner which was narrowly broken up.
Decker’s touchdown was beautifully designed by Chan Gailey. He motioned Decker closer to the set, had him hesitate for a split second and cut his route right off Jeff Cumberland’s hip which gave him space for a free release.
If Decker does not play this weekend, it will open an opportunity for Jeremy Kerley to receive reps in the slot. With Chris Owusu also out, it is unavoidable for the Jets to play Kerley. They run a base 3 wide set so they can either put Devin Smith and Brandon Marshall on the outside, with Kerley in the slot or put Marshall in the slot with Smith/Kerley on the outside.
Once more with emphasis, Quincy Enunwa is a tight end in this offense. He is the starting H-Back, who plays a very specific role that is replacing what Jace Amaro was likely slated to do. Jeremy Kerley does not play the same position as him in this offense. Enunwa played 29 snaps this week and was featured more in the passing game than last week, despite still regularly being given pass protection and run blocking assignments. Enunwa had the grab we highlighted above but also dropped two passes, including the one below after doing a nice job working himself open over the middle.
Chris Owusu played 52 snaps and was primarily tasked with running clear out routes for all those option routes we discussed Eric Decker running. He was targeted only 3 times, including below when he did a great job being a decoy and taking three defenders with him (even though he ended up targeted). I’d expect Devin Smith to slide right into the role he occupied with Owusu now out 2 weeks due to a knee injury.
The beast Brandon Marshall saw 10 targets and caught 7 for 101 yards with another TD. Marshall also drew multiple penalties, including one in the end-zone on Vontae Davis. Once Davis was out of the game, the Colts secondary was fairly helpless against him unless they double or tripled him. Here is a breakdown of his alignment and results on the targets
- Left slot – 5 yard reception on hook route
- Left split end – 42 yard reception on comeback route
- Left split end – Go route, outside the numbers. Intercepted
- Right split end – Slant. 6 yard reception
- Left slot – Corner route. Incomplete
- Right split end – Smoke screen. 5 yard reception
- Right split end – Go route, outside the numbers. Incomplete
- Right split end – Comeback route on boot. 16 yard reception
- Left split end – Slant. 12 yard reception
- Right split end – Back shoulder fade. 15 yard touchdown
The Jets love isolating Marshall backside as a split end so things like this can happen (sorry, Dwight Lowery).
As for Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis, who played 23 and 19 snaps respectively. They are not part of the passing game right now. Cumberland has not seen a target in two games and Davis has only seen one. To his credit, Cumberland has blocked well but both are basically glorified lineman or used to set picks/occupy defenders with decoy routes.