Context Stats – Ryan Fitzpatrick vs The Bengals

Edward Gorelik breaks down the context stats for Ryan Fitzpatrick week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals

Statistics let us to remove emotional stimuli and focus on the hard truth of what happens. But statistics aren’t always enough. It’s necessary to place statistics into context of their environment to understand what they are. 60% accuracy doesn’t tell you any real information, but 60% accuracy throwing against man coverage gives you something to work with. That’s the purpose of this season-long project.

Let’s get this out of the way, these numbers aren’t fully objective. There’s a lot of subjectivity involved with interceptables, drops, single vs full reads, and even what the coverage faced is. This is still a subjective analysis. It’s just adding numbers to that subjective analysis.

Week 1 of 2016 was supposed to be the Jets coming out party as one of the big boys of the AFC. Instead, we got to watch our elite corner disappear, our elite wide receiver be non-existent, and the teams choice of quarterback play a completely boring game. Context stats are not kind to Fitzpatrick’s week 1 performance at all, especially considering 11 of his 19 completions came from behind the line of scrimmage.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats - Cincinatti Bengals Passing Chart

Just as the Jets did last year, they kept the game short for Fitzpatrick. His limitations as a passer force them into gameplanning around his flaws to maximize whatever it is they value in him (I don’t see it, so I don’t know what it is). The Jets continued their exotic screen game by adding two new screens to their regular rotation, the Jet Screen (ran both times by Quincy Enunwa) and a slot screen (ran three times to Matt Forte). One of the few routes Fitzpatrick was able to hit consistently against the Bengals were screens, but their value was quickly diminished.

In the video below, you’ll see Enunwa’s first fancy handoff go for 9 and then -1. Then Forte’s special screen goes for 24 and is immediately read by the defense the next two times it’s used, despite the Bengals involved being out of position at the pre-snap.

Fitzpatrick was surprisingly productive hitting the Vertical route (although we kept them short as seam passes) and had some good passes on two intermediate post routes. But the Jets made it clear this week they wanted to keep the game out of Fitzpatrick’s hands as much as possible. Along with the 12 passes behind the line of scimmage, an additional five were completely by design. Nearly 50% of passes took Fitzpatrick’s mind out of the game. Those were also their most consistently productive playcalls.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Cincinnati Bengals Week 1 - Routes Stats

What happens when we remove (some of) those designed plays though?

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Cincinnati Bengals Week 1 - Reads stats
If you’ve read this project before, there’s been another update. Attempts, completions, and YPA now include sacks and runs taken, evolving this into a full picture of the QBs play and not just his passing. A run counts as an attempt and completion.

After dropping the screen game, Fitzpatrick becomes exceptionally inefficient. He had two interceptable passes on 32 total plays (this counts any play with the ball in his hands: run, pass, or sack) and had 5.27 ANY/A. The Jets have always kept Fitzpatrick’s work limited to a single side, but he did have a few plays where he attempted to expand on it and the results weren’t pretty.

On the one above, Fitzpatrick reads the left side of an ambiguous zone coverage to see if he can throw the flat for Powell. When he sees the lower defenders don’t move deeper with Decker, he switches to the opposite side and throws way out of Marshall’s catch radius. But the play gave him an opportunity to throw at Decker. The defenders not taking bait and waiting for Powell left an opening. Fitzpatrick had already pre-determined his progression and after seeing Powell’s route closed, he focused on Marshall.

That play is bad, but it wasn’t his worst.

Fitzpatrick’s interception and Marshall’s drop were the most talked about plays in that game, but going back in; this one stood out even more to me. Nothing about it makes sense. The Jets run a play action with almost every receiver going deep. Generally, when faced with deep zone coverage Fitz is quick to checkdown and take the yards. Not here.

A Bengals Rusher affects the throw, but Fitzpatrick is throwing at Marshall who has three defenders immediately in his area and a fourth hovering near it. He did this on first down, with the Jets up 3 from their own side of the field. It’s an extremely reckless decision, regardless of being tipped.

Getting past that, Fitzpatrick did have one good skill based throw.

The pre-snap shows cover-1 man with the safety cheating heavily into the box. Jets run a play action that Fitzpatrick cuts short purposely in order to read Marshall’s route. I’ve rarely seen him ever pull this off, but Fitzpatrick manages to actually get the ball over the LB in the lane and right into Marshall’s hands. That’s a difficult pass to make.


Every week I’ll be posting what “Interceptable” passes i saw from Fitzpatrick in their own section. If you’re not familiar with interceptable passes, they were popularized by Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) over the last two seasons. What is and isn’t interceptable is subjective, so I’m opening it up for argument. I’ll be putting what i deemed as potentially interceptable, and why, and if you think you can make the case why it’s not; do so in the comments. If the case is convincing, I’ll remove the play from his interceptables.

3rd and 11 at CIN 40 (10:36 – 2nd) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass incomplete short middle to J.Marshall [S.Williams]. PENALTY on CIN-G.Iloka, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at CIN 40 – No Play

The Bengals show a zone coverage and run an exotic overload blitz. One of the rushers has a free lane to Fitzpatrick, who’s watching Jalin Marshall’s route in the middle of the field. Fitzpatrick throws under pressure while hopping, causing his ball to sail beyond Jalin’s catchable area. He has to do a full stretch in air just to touch the ball, which causes it’s trajectory to veer away from going directly into the safeties arms. Even if the case is made that the ball doesn’t get intercepted because the safety is going for the hit, it doesn’t change that the ball is better thrown to the safety than to Jalin.

3rd and 10 at NYJ 25 (0:46 – 4th) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass short right intended for E.Decker INTERCEPTED by J.Shaw at NYJ 40. J.Shaw to NYJ 40 for no gain (E.Decker). PENALTY on NYJ-E.Decker, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at NYJ 40

I don’t think this will have to be argued, but sometimes actual interceptions aren’t always interceptable passes from the QB. The Jets are running a sail concept against the Bengals deep cover-2 man. The Sail is a combination of a vertical + corner/out + drag/quick out route all on the same side of the field. It causes a vertical stretch on the zone defenders there (if its zone) and also allows the QB to read three routes by only looking at a third of the field. Fitz decides to take Decker on the corner, obviously to try and get him out of bounds, but underthrows it so badly that Josh Shaw has the ball fall into his chest for an interception that he’s not even looking for. I think this one would be hard to debate, but you’re free to try.

Extra Stats

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Cincinnati Bengals Week 1 - Routes Stats

Fitzpatrick had 2 passes dropped, losing 21 total yards (without YAC).

He also had 10 passes that were deemed inaccurate, four were further than 10 yards and the remaining six were ahead of the line of scrimmage. All of them were on non-designed plays.

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