New York Jets Passing Game Breakdown, Week 10

Joe Caporoso breaks down the New York Jets passing game in their week 10 loss to the Buffalo Bills

After taking a week to review the problems with the New York Jets running game, we are back to looking at their passing game. It was a sloppy, inconsistent effort against the Buffalo Bills and was one of the main factors in their disappointing 22-17 loss. Feel free to leave questions below or sound off on Twitter. On to the #TAPE…

The Game Plan: The Jets were able to get their running game back on track led by Chris Ivory’s 18 carries for 99 yards. However, outside of Ivory (who also added 36 receiving yards) and Eric Decker (6 receptions, 85 yards and a TD), the rest of the offense didn’t show up. This was an ugly game for many of the skill position players who were unable to take advantage of what the defense gave them throughout the night. Stevan Ridley managed negative one yard on three carries, Brandon Marshall struggled with double coverage and had a critical drop as did Jeremy Kerley. Kenbrell Thompkins caught a two yard pass on 3rd and 3 and couldn’t get himself open in single coverage. As for the quarterback…

The Quarterback: This was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s worst game of the season, as he finished 15/34 for 193 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. He also made multiple mental errors at the line of scrimmage that resulted in unsuccessful checks and failed conversions. On the season, Fitzpatrick is now completing 59.7% of his passes with 7.0 yards per attempt (22nd in NFL). He has 15 TDs to 9 INTs. Despite a strong second half, he made one too many mistakes for the Jets to escape with victory in a very winnable game. Let’s take a closer look at what went wrong, along with a few of the positives…

Despite a general perception to the contrary, Fitzpatrick is frequently a one read quarterback. Most of his turnovers from this season come from this reality. Early in the first quarter he is nearly pick sixed by Manny Lawson when he locks on to Eric Decker’s slant route from the second he gets the ball, allowing Lawson to peel off his coverage and jump in the throwing lane.

Later in the first half, despite it being 3rd and 18, Fitzpatrick locks on to Brandon Marshall’s seam route. He is blanketed down the seam with a safety doubling him over the top and a third defender also closing in. There is zero logical sense in ever throwing this pass and in a 3-0 game when the Jets defense was playing great, it was inexcusably dumb to try to force this on 3rd and so long.

Fitzpatrick rightly gets knocked for his arm strength from time to time but arm strength isn’t just about how far you can throw the ball. It is about throwing the ball with accuracy deep down the field. Below, he has Brandon Marshall in single coverage down the field with a defender on his hip. He overshoots him by about 5 yards, not allowing him to make a play on the football.

The Jets should have had a touchdown below instead of settling for 3 in the first quarter when Fitzpatrick threw behind Decker on 3rd down on this seam route. The second GIF shows the opening in the middle of the end-zone but instead Fitzpatrick throws well behind Decker, making him reach back with one hand towards the other safety. If the ball placement is better here, it is an easy touchdown.

Outside of these throws, Fitzpatrick made an unsuccessful smoke screen check to Brandon Marshall on 4th and 2. He also checked to a failed screen to Eric Decker on a critical red-zone 3rd down late in the game (we’ll get to that later).

On the positive side, Fitzpatrick made a few big time throws in the second half. He checked to this deep corner route to Decker on a huge 4th down and dropped a perfect throw into a tight window before the safety could break over the top.

Later in the same drive, he corrected an earlier mistake by perfectly placing this touchdown to Decker on the seam route, allowing him to make a play on the ball between two defenders.

Finally, Fitzpatrick got back to utilizing his legs against Buffalo, rushing for 30 yards including this 16 yard scramble. The Jets need him to use his legs when the opportunity is there, as it makes their offense more difficult to defend.

The Receivers:

Only one snap for rookie Devin Smith (yes, I know he killed the team with his kick return fumble) but this is progress for a 22 yard again on 3rd down. He has a nice rip move to get inside position, catches the football with his hands and is able to absorb a hit while hanging on. Baby steps.

Eric Decker has been the team’s most consistent and best overall offensive player over the past month. Outside of the above catches, he moves the chains below with a skinny post from the slot after crossing the formation in motion. Decker is becoming one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL in Chan Gailey’s offense.

This was a tough night for Brandon Marshall who struggled with double coverage and had this inexcusable drop, which are starting to become just a bit too common for him. It is imperative the Jets get Marshall back on track for the stretch run of the season. They can’t win with him having less than 30 receiving yards.

Kenbrell Thompkins and Jeremy Kerley both had rough nights at the office. Kerley had a third down drop and didn’t contribute anything else. Thompkins ran sloppy routes throughout the night and couldn’t win against single coverage, allowing the Bills to regularly double Marshall.

The Goddamn Tight Ends:

Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis have reached a special type of incompetence, where they don’t only mess up their own assignments, they destroy the assignments of others around them. This game was there to be won and here is Jeff Cumberland blocking Eric Decker and then standing around, preventing a WR screen from working. Below that, you have Kellen Davis slamming into Decker, somehow breaking wide open and then not looking for the football. Just lovely.

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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports