Context Stats: Ryan Fitzpatrick vs The Browns

Edward Gorelik with context stats on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance against the Cleveland Browns…

Statistics let us remove emotional stimuli and focus on the hard truth of what happens. But we need to place statistics into their environment to gain context and understand what’s really happening. Geno Smith having 60% accuracy doesn’t tell you any 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 completely 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.

If you want to bounce back, face the Browns. That’s the case with this week’s analysis, since nothing about Fitzpatrick’s play changed but the results and box score were drastically different.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats 2016 - Passing Map
Quarterbacks aren’t punished in this chart for drops and defensive penalties.

That was Fitzpatrick’s passing chart in week 8. An ineffective game wherein he gave four interception opportunities to the leagues 30th ranked defense in DVOA. This chart isn’t noticeably different than his normal passing chart, showing how much quality of opponent plays a part in our perception of a players game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats 2016 - Passing Map Season
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s season long passing map.

This was just a regular 2016 Ryan Fitzpatrick performance, headlined by a force-fed run game and a bad opponent.

It’s become expected for Ryan Fitzpatrick to be a below average passer and the Jets to do everything they can to pretend he isn’t. This time the strategy was to limit him through keeping reads on one side of the field and designed to the outside. However, the Browns quickly figured out what was going on and defense began swatting away pass after pass since Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t keep his eyes off his target from the snap.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats 2016 vs Cleveland Browns - Reads

The first half for Fitzpatrick was actually appalling. He did suffer two drops but he also had 7 of his 15 passes knocked away by a defender, with a cherry of two sacks on top. He could’ve been credited with 8 deflections if you want to call a safety knocking the ball out of Marshalls hands that, but I counted that as a drop. His final drive of the half may be the worst drive he’s had all season.

Three plays:

  1. A zone pre-snap look. Fitzpatrick checks the solo side with Marshall and sees that’s not happening. Then he comes to the right in a panicky manner, comes back to middle continuing to search for anyone to throw at and eventually just runs out of the pocket for a sack, missing a wide open player crossing the middle.
  2. The next play has a man coverage look. Fitz is watching the right side where a receiver is open underneath but checks Marshall instead, whose route is equally as short. Fitz pulls the ball up to throw and then back down. He searches the field for a new target. Eventually he throws a dangerous pass into the middle where Quincy and a safety battle for a near interception.
  3. On the final play, another man coverage look. With Quincy wide open on a crossing route, Fitzpatrick throws so significantly behind him that I had to count this as interceptable. It’s a better pass at the player covering Quincy than to him.

After that drive, Fitzpatrick had one of the more obvious interceptables in the game but turned around when the offense began focusing on throwing inside of the numbers with in-breaking routes.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats 2016 vs Cleveland Browns - Routes
Notice the difference between Ins vs every other route.

In the second half, Fitzpatrick threw only three inaccurate passes (all over 15 yards) and also threw his only three in-stride passes of the game (all over 10 yards). The inaccurate ones went mostly to the outside while the stride passes came all towards the middle of the field. The best of which was this:

It’s the same design as the best play from last week, except that time it belonged to Geno. The defense shows a cover-2 pre-snap while the Jets run a playaction yankee concept. That concept is a vertical stretch on a single high safety where they have to decide between a deep post or a deep In route.

Like last weeks example, one safety is sitting close to the line while the other floats above a receiver. After the snap, the box safety crashes down on the playaction. The floating safety’s role would be to back into the deep spot, but he chooses to sit on Marshalls route instead. That leaves Enunwa one on one deep. Fitzpatrick makes one of his rare good deep shots, making this a physically impressive play. However, he never checked the position of the safety and just threw, so it’s a good deep throw but mentally it’s the same reason why he’s been intercepted so often.

Ultimately, it’s the same game from Fitzpatrick as we’ve seen all season. The difference was the opponent. The passing map shows the same player, the context stats show the same player, but the opponent switched from top 16 to bottom 5.


Interceptables are a heavily subjective statistic. There’s obvious interception drops, but sometimes there are potential interceptions where defenders make decisions that don’t lead to one. Theree will be an example of that below. In general, my rules for an interceptable from require one factor: it has to be a better throw to the defender than the receiver. If you can argue against one and make a strong case, i’ll remove it from the list and stats.

You’ve already seen it, so let’s just get through it. Man coverage look, Fitzpatrick pulls the ball down from his first target, panics looking for a second and throws dangerously into the middle of the field where Enunwa and a defender battle for the ball.

I think this would be the play most likely to be argued against, but I don’t know how. Enunwa is on a crossing route against man coverage and Fitzpatrick throws the ball so exceptionally behind him that it’s nearly uncatchable without an athletic feat. It’s heading directly into the defender chasing him and potentially getting intercepted by them. Enunwa is stopping that by being amazing. It’s these types of misplacements that have led to him being so heavily intercepted this season.

The first new play, and the most obvious interceptable of them all. Browns stack the box and show man coverage. An implied playaction occurs with the way Fitzpatrick drops back. He throws the ball extremely shy of his target, landing right in Jamar Taylor’s hands. Enunwa rips it out because he is an amazing receiver but this is all luck for Fitzpatrick.

The last interceptable pass shows nearly the same exact play as the last. The Browns have an obvious man coverage with a seven man box but keep a safety high. Fitzpatrick’s tendency is to throw deep whenever he sees man coverage and a single high regardless of anything else. On top of that, his lacking power forces him to let the ball go early in the route before receivers get too deep. Here, Marshall has leverage over Haden and again it’s underthrown. From my perspective, the only difference between this two plays is Haden keeping one hand on Marshall. Otherwise, the ball is thrown in an interceptable spot and better for Haden than Marshall.

Extra Stats

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats 2016 vs Cleveland Browns - Win Probabilty
Fitzpatrick’s split by win probability shows an efficient player at all levels. But most importantly, a completely desperate player when trying to mount a comeback. Despite succeeding at it this time, that may be because of the Browns more than himself.

Fitzpatrick had 3 receptions lost to drops for 39 total air yards. He also threw 5 inaccurate passes, one of which was caught for 16 yards. He made one coverage beating throw in this game on a fade to Marshall.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Context Stats 2016 vs Cleveland Browns - Players
Despite the high rate of interceptables, throwing to Enunwa is still a very effective option. Especially since he kept three of them from actually being intercepted.