New York Jets vs Jaguars: QB Report

Edward Gorelik breaks down the performance of the Jets QBs in their preseason opener

The pre-season for the QBs is nearly cut and dry with Fitzpatrick being the expected starter and Geno being the backup. However, there’s still a potential for a battle between Petty and Geno for the second spot, as well as whether either player is on the roster at all come week 1. Throughout the pre-season, i’ll be looking at all four QBs to see where they’re all at.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Signed late in the offseason, FItzpatrick started extremely conservative as he warmed up. An immediate checkdown was followed up with a missed crosser, ending with a sack that Fitzpatrick didn’t seem to care about. On the next drive, Fitzpatrick hit Enunwa twice in a row on the same route as Enunwa ran up and across the seam against shoddy zone coverage. Fitz did a move that had mixed success last year by glancing at the opposite side before turning and immediately throwing. It worked twice in a row against the Jaguars, leading to big gains from a wide open Quincy Enunwa and baiting the zone coverage defenders on Enunwa’s second reception. You can see all of his throws from last night below but overall there wasn’t much to read into.

Geno Smith

Geno’s night started off with some awful passes as he also played with an extreme conservatism. Jalin Marshall dropped his first target on a crosser, and then Geno had two of his worst passes of the night separated by one completion on a comeback. He had three passes that ranged anywhere from bad to awful against the Jagauars, all right at the start. Below you can see all three of his weak throws, two of them occurring in the bottom right area where I’ve seen him regularly struggle to hit in every one of his seasons, and the other while rushed through pressure. The worst of which was the second one, a near interception that looked like a late pass to a curl route, or maybe it was an off target throw to Amaro. It’s just a very bad, inaccurate pass.

With the bad behind him, Geno started attacking downfield and the yards became easy to get. The play below was the highlight for the QBs last night, as Geno hit Peake on a well placed backshoulder pass, turning a decent coverage by the corner into leverage for the receiver. Peake adjusted to the throw and managed to quickly pull the ball into his chest and secure the touchdown, a highlight of his own.

Geno had one more drive at the start of the 3rd quarter, and he looked sharp throughout until a bobbled snap occurred. Below is that whole drive, which included a very nice throw to Jeremy Ross over some defenders. Geno recognized a linebacker move to take on Ross as he went in motion, and took advantage of that mismatch by throwing over a sitting LB and into Ross’s hands. The LB was able to touch the ball slightly changing it’s trajectory, but Ross had no trouble corralling it anyway.

Bryce Petty

The real surprise of the night was Bryce Petty. Without much to see of Fitzpatrick, and Geno beating the 2nd stringers after a rough start, it was Petty’s night to show that he deserves a place on the Jets 2016 roster. He hasn’t quite hit that point yet, but he was looking like a player that had improved on the skills he already had from one preseason ago.

Petty’s first pass was on a post against a cover-3 defense that didn’t drop far enough (a theme) to take away the throw. Petty’s quickness on his first dropback was an immediate surprise with good timing and placement. His followup to that was a strong comeback route and then a screen pass that drove the Jets down the field quickly. The drive continued with a great jump ball opportunity for the WR against tight man coverage, as Petty hit Robby Anderson on the sideline but couldn’t be finished inbounds. Ultimately the drive ended with a field goal after an aggressive attempt at hitting Amaro in the endzone, a potentially drive killing play if caught. But concerns about Petty’s lack of development could be quieted immediately.

Petty’s next two drives still showed a work in progress and were reminders of his lack of refinement. Although able to hit targets with ease when given a direct line to throw to them, Petty showed struggles with placement when attempting to put touch on the ball further down the field. Another good throw happened before all that though, as he hit Chandler Worthy for 17 yards in the middle of the field while man coverage pulled a linebacker out of the throwing lane. Otherwise, the throws remained mostly easy, sticking to the underneath with some single side reading through rollouts. Although he did take two sacks on this drive, I wouldn’t feel comfortable blaming him for either.

A Jaguars rusher getting into the backfield freely forced Petty into his worst pass of the night. The pre-snap showed just one safety on the trips side of the field, who came down to man up while the box safety headed upfield with his back towards the solo receiver. Petty recognized the safety being out of position to play that man and with his quick release, he was able to get the ball out just as the free rusher came upon him. The throw managed to be just outside of the range of the WR but was nearly intercepted by the safety that couldn’t quite make a diving grab.

I’m unhappy that we didn’t get to see Christian Hackenberg last night but whether that’s because his roster spot is safe or because they just don’t want to put him out there, I don’t know. Regardless, Bryce Petty’s battle for a roster spot, Geno Smith’s attempt to comeback, and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s continuing saga are going to be a focus all pre-season long.

We’ll see how the QBs look again next week.