New York Jets Passing Game Breakdown, Week 5 (Steelers)

Joe Caporoso breaks down the film on the New York Jets passing game in their week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers

The New York Jets offense continued to sputter against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a 31-13 loss. This is a team who has scored two legitimate touchdowns over the past three games. Do not be fooled by box score scouting from Sunday, the Jets offense and particularly their passing offense continued to be anemic and ineffective. Let’s dive into the #TAPE…

The Game Plan: The New York Jets ran a pass heavy approach against the Steelers, dropping Ryan Fitzpatrick back over 40 times (38 passes, 1 scramble and 3 sacks) compared to only 16 carries. Matt Forte’s line of 12 carries for 53 yards with a 4.4 YPC might look decent but in reality, outside of a 28 yard scamper on a 3rd and short, he was totally ineffective with his other 11 carries going for 25 yards. Bilal Powell remains underused as a runner despite increased integration in the passing game with 8 targets. Outside of Powell, Brandon Marshall dominated the Jets passing game with 15 targets, hauling in 8 for 114 yards and a touchdown. Quincy Enunwa caught 4 of his 7 targets and needs to have more touches manufactured for him because of his ability after the catch. It was an encouraging debut for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, who caught both his targets and blocked better than expected.

The Jets leaned on simplistic intermediate passing game route combinations, mostly the slant/flat to Marshall and underneath in-cuts to their split end. Teams know Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot beat them with the long ball and the Jets were more hesitant than usual to try to make them pay, for understandable reasons after how Fitzpatrick has played recently.

Two other quick notes: The Jets began to experiment with more looks that have Bilal Powell and Matt Forte on the field together, but they still need to use Forte more frequently as a receiver and Powell more frequently as a runner. Both Brandon Bostick and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins are better than Kellen Davis. There is no reason he should be on the roster, nevermind playing major reps. End the farce.

The Quarterback: The fact that Fitzpatrick did not throw an interception does not mean he played a good football game. He did not threaten Pittsburgh down the field at all and was bailed out of another red-zone interception by a terrific catch from Brandon Marshall, while also continuing his pattern of missing open receivers and reckless ball handling.

The Jets have been fortunate that Fitzpatrick has recovered an inordinate number of his own fumbles. This will regress to the mean eventually so he needs to be more secure in the pocket. This is a well designed screen that had blocking break down but Fitzpatrick must tuck this away before fumbles begin compiling along with interceptions.

Fitzpatrick continues to miss open receivers because of locking in to a single target. On this 3rd and 2, Quincy Enunwa is wide open in the middle of the field for a big catch and run but Fitzpatrick has determined before the snap he is going to Brandon Marshall. He never removes his eyes from the slant route and then to top it off delivers a highly inaccurate pass.


Fitzpatrick’s lone touchdown of the day should have been intercepted, as he badly under threw this fade route to Marshall, who makes a spectacular play to tip the ball up to himself for a touchdown.


He also remains generally inaccurate, making life more difficult for his receivers. When the ball is not delivered in stride to them, it limits their opportunity for YAC. On a Jets offense that cannot complete the deep ball, it is imperative that players like Marshall, Enunwa and Powell are given every chance to create after the catch.

The Marshall: It is hard to knock Brandon Marshall after the number of plays he made Sunday but with the state of this offense right now, the Jets cannot afford any mental mistakes from him. They simply are not good enough to weather dropped passes from him on 3rd down. When you are struggling at quarterback and struggling the defense, the margin for error generally disappears.

Scary Stats: 

  • Brandon Marshall has caught 24 of his 54 targets (44%)
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 5 game stat line: 1,267 yards, 57.8 completion %, 5 TDs, 10 INTs
  • Geno Smith’s rookie year 5 game stat line: 1,268 yards, 60 completion %, 7 TDs, 8 INTs
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is the lowest rated starting QB in the NFL, 5 points below Blaine Gabbert
  • The Jets have zero second half passing touchdown this season

Photo Credit: 

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