Wristband Season – New York Jets Go Forward Quarterback Strategy

Joe Caporoso on the New York Jets go forward plan at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center

The New York Jets will be going back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback due to Geno Smith tearing his ACL, Bryce Petty recovering from a shoulder injury and Christian Hackenberg being frozen in carbonite. How should they proceed with a “pissed off” Fitzpatrick in the coming weeks to potentially get their season back on track against the softer part of their schedule?

In 2009, the New York Jets required rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to wear a wristband to help his decision making. They decided if they could lean heavily on their defense, a safe passing game and their running game, they could compile wins in the middle/late part of their schedule. With a reigned in Sanchez (and some timely rested players from their opponents), the Jets took a 4-6 record to 9-7 and a playoff appearance. Here are Sanchez’s stat-lines from the Jets 5-1 stretch.

  • 13/17, 154 yards, INT
  • 7/15, 104 yards, TD
  • 12/23, 111 yards (Kellen Clemens played this game)
  • 18/32, 226 yards, TD, 3 INTs (only loss in this stretch)
  • 12/19, 106 yards
  • 8/16, 63 yards

Are the Jets going to go this extreme with Ryan Fitzpatrick? No. However, they should take a page out of the 2009 Sanchez playbook, similar to what they did when he replaced Geno Smith last week and severely reign him in.

2015 is dead. The book is out how to stop that version of the Jets offense and Fitzpatrick is never going to consistently play that well again in his life. The Jets need him to fight the natural player that he is, a reckless gunslinger who can be a playmaker but routinely makes poor decisions, and try to become some type of game manager.

The Jets can win their next three games, against Cleveland, Miami and Los Angeles, on the backs of their defense and running game, if both show up like they did vs. Baltimore. Offensively, they need to load up on carries to both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, integrate them heavily in the screen game and accept the reality that Fitzpatrick is a one read quarterback. He is going to keep missing open receivers like Anderson below at the bottom of the screen.

The Jets will not be able to change that about Fitzpatrick but hopefully they can get him to stop forcing the ball into double/triple coverage to somewhat cut back the turnovers. They can also take advantage of having strong YAC players like Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson by getting them the ball on quick smoke/wide receiver screens with more frequency.

Keep the passing game short and safe, while occasionally picking your spots to hopefully let your receivers win 50/50 jump balls down the field. This offense isn’t the Ryan Fitzpatrick show. It is the “let our receivers play basketball” against smaller defenders and break tackles on short completions show. The Jets can win against mediocre teams if Fitzpatrick plays like he did in relief against Baltimore. This isn’t a long term solution or a way to beat New England but cross that bridge when you come to it.

In the meantime, the Jets should sharply increase the practice reps for Bryce Petty (and to a lesser extent Christian Hackenberg) and prepare him to be played after the bye week, if Fitzpatrick struggles or the Jets lose any of these next three games. Petty has his flaws but when you are coaching around your quarterback, namely a 34 year old who won’t be here next year, there shouldn’t be a hesitation to give him a long look if the situation calls for it.

Jets fans should be used to ugly football. They are going to be seeing plenty of it the next three weeks but with proper game management, they may begin to see more victories as well.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com 

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