New York Jets vs Washington: QB Report

Edward Gorelik breaks down the performance of the New York Jets quarterbacks against Washington…

The Washington game gave us a lot of information to unpack about the quarterbacks. A productive performance from Bryce Petty may have opened a competition between him and Geno Smith for the backup job. However, we’ve seen this story before with QBs like Matt Simms who beat up inferior competition. So how do we know if this is any different? The game will have the answers, as we go through each QB’s performance against the Redskins…

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Expectations for Fitzpatrick’s preseason should be set to boring. The Jets have no reason to put him under stress. Chan Gailey kept most of Fitzpatrick’s work limited to short/intermediate throws, on which he showed good placement and timing. Although there’s still accuracy hiccups, there hasn’t been anything to read into and the playcalling is too simple to get a feel for what to expect this year. For example, on his first play, the Jets ran a playaction post which drew in both ILBs, leaving a clean lane for a direct throw to Marshall. It’s a simple play that looks nice, but analytically there’s nothing there.

However, he did have his best throw of the preseason (so far) on a completion to Eric Decker.

Facing a Cover-3 Zone, Fitz watched Decker from the snap (not wrong) and managed to throw right over a zone defender into Decker’s outstretched hands. It’s not much, but it’s the most difficult play he’s had to make so far.

Geno Smith

There’s no doubt Geno Smith had the worst day of the three quarterbacks. In fact, neither preseason game has been positive for the current backup QB. He also broke the seal of being the first Jets QB intercepted in preseason.

Geno’s facing a pre-snap similar to what Fitzpatrick sees in the curl to Decker. The Redskins are showing press on the solo receiver while the opposite side shows three off-coverage defenders. At the snap, the defense is revealed to be a Cover-3, same as before. However, this route combo is meant to pull the intermediate defender (safety Will Blackmon) to the right by using a post-route from the slot receiver. Blackmon doesn’t bite on it, Geno mis-reads Blackmon’s intensions, and it turns into an easy interception. Geno bought into the play-design before confirming it succeeded and paid for it.

After the interception, Geno would get one more drive for the night and seemed to be bouncing back. Although his accuracy was suboptimal for the entire game, he had one good throw that deserves a little attention.

The Redskins show a cover-2 zone on the pre-snap, and drop exactly as such. Geno opens reading the left side of the field where there’s a vertical stretch with a quick out/deep out combo from the slot receiver and outside receiver, respectively. After the quick out pulls the outermost CB downwards and Geno immediately sets and throws to Robby Anderson; well before he’s even in his break. The ball lands in his arms uncontested at the sideline for an easy 17 yards.

One last play deserves some attention, the fourth down throw to Charone Peake.

Washington shows pure man coverage across the board. All the routes are heading in the opposite direction of Peake, leaving an open lane for the curl. Reading the CBs leverage (over and inside), Geno throws early to the back shoulder (as he should) but places it too far behind Peake. It’s a play Peake can make, but his technique stops him from finishing. He comes out of the break with his hands hanging down at the knees instead of up and ready at his hips. That minor change normally won’t make a difference, but on plays like this it does. He tries to one hand the back-shoulder throw and the mix of sub-optimal placement and technique results in an incompletion.

Bryce Petty

Bryce Petty stole the show against the Redskins. It wasn’t the dominant game some people have made it out to be but it’s a performance that deserves attention. At this point, Petty should be seriously considered for a roster spot with the preseason he’s having.

It didn’t start out well. The first two drives for Petty had zero first downs, a sack where Petty was almost frozen, and a near interception. Facing a cover-2 look on the pre-snap that would turn into a cover-3, Petty tried to hit Jalin Marshall on a post that looks like a miscommunication; but that wouldn’t have mattered. The zone defender in-between them saw the play, got into the throwing lane, but couldn’t catch the ball. Not a great start, but he’ll bounce back.

This pass overrides Geno’s back shoulder TD against the Jaguars for the best throw in preseason. It’s also the most impressive play Petty’s made since becoming a Jet. Facing a Cover-4 shell on the pre-snap, Petty sees it turn into a Cover-3 once the play is live. Staring down his target, Petty leads the rolling safety into the throwing lane, but a perfect throw goes over their head and fits past a second safety into the hands of Sudfeld. All this as pass rusher barrels down on Petty. These types of throws are exactly what I wanted to see after I criticized him last week for not finishing any passes that had resistance against them.

Almost all of Petty’s good passes came from throwing deep (although not all of his deep passes were good). The four plays above start with Petty missing an open Kyle Williams down the seam. Then he hits Robby Anderson on an under-thrown deep pass against cover-2. Anderson is nearly 3 steps ahead of the corner before having to slow down and come back to the ball. On the next play, Petty reads the cover-2 zone perfectly and throws an adjustment pass up the seam behind Jeremy Ross. That keeps him from having to run straight into the safety to make this catch.

On the final play, the Redskins showed a single high safety and had a corner in press man against Robby Anderson (who had a great game too). Petty gave Anderson a good jump ball opportunity with very little room for error on the sideline and Anderson was able to high point the throw and take it all the way to the endzone.

Overall, Petty showed improvement but most of it came in what was expected out of Petty when he was drafted: his ability to throw far. He still remained hesitant when throwing underneath and his mental game seems limited to single decisions within plays. For a QB like him to grow into a success with his current skill set, he’ll likely have to maximize his big play potential and can’t afford to miss Kyle Williams in the seam or under-throw Anderson when he’s as open as can be. Especially when he has tendencies to bring defenders over to his targets and a strange pocket presence that sometimes borders on unaware.

Regardless of all that, he’s shown development and making a real case to stay on the 53; and unless Geno starts playing well, he may take over as the backup QB too.

Photo Credit: