The third time was the charm for Ryan Fitzpatrick facing Rex Ryan as the coach of the Bills, and the Jets pulled out an impressive victory over their division foes in Week 2 of this football season. The Jets offense clicked much better than the previous week, and many players contributed to the effort. The fan-base has returned to believing in Fitzmagic, so let us examine how the Jet’s QB performed this week.
This a crucial third down play on the opening drive, and the Jets execute a perfect pass. The Jets needed to challenge defenses deep down the field because the Bengals did not respect the Jet’s ability to pass deep last week. The Jets had to come out this week and at least show a downfield passing attack to keep the defense honest. This is a good example of the lack of respect for the deep pass. The play starts off with one deep safety, shading over to Brandon Marshall’s side on the right side of the formation. There is another intermediate safety, who plays Decker as the middle option, essentially double teaming him. The deep safety rolls over to Marshall as soon as the ball is hiked, so in essence Rex Ryan has decided to double both Decker and Marshall on this play. Fitzpatrick does a good job recognizing this, and throws an absolutely beautiful pass to Quincy Enunwa down the sideline. The Jets WR has a step on the CB, but this is not bad coverage at all, it just happens to be a great throw. Enunwa helps out with a very good hands catch and stays in bounds for a massive first down. On this play, Rex Ryan took away the two most dangerous weapons for the Jets, and yet he was still beat with a great throw to emerging star Enunwa.
This is another play that happens on third down for the Jets. On this occasion, the defense is again trying to bait a throw, but Fitzpatrick makes a good decision and runs for the first down when the middle of the field is cleared of defenders. While it’s not shown in this angle (mostly because the run is more impressive from this angle) the Bills baited Fitzpatrick with a 2 deep safety look, with one safety playing deep on the slot man. They also showed a six man blitz look, giving the impression that the hot read to the slot WR was the best pass here. However, at the snap, a defensive end jumps back to cut off throws to the slot WR as the safety comes over the top. If a QB panics in this case, it’s an incomplete pass at best, but Fitzpatrick steps up in the pocket and makes a run for it. As you can see from this angle, Fitzpatrick looks to his left, ogling at his hot read before he realizes this trap. The middle of the field clears out, and there is ample space to run.
A great example of how you counteract adjustments during the game. This is an decent throw, and very good catch. What makes this play exemplary is the adjustment by the Jets to this defense. Notice the formation and set up of this play, it’s very similar to the first play you saw on this review. Rex Ryan has again decided to dedicate two defenders in the vicinity of Decker and Marshall, forcing the Jets to go with someone else. The defender on Enunwa saw that he beat them down the field last time, so he’s much more eager to turn his hip and run down the field this time. He doesn’t want to get beat deep again, and turns around to run step for step with the WR. Fitzpatrick and the Jets adjust magnificently on this play, and execute a good back shoulder pass. The pass is a bit late, mainly because Fitzpatrick double pumps, but it’s a very good hands catch by Enunwa for a first down.
A play that very well could have been in the “Sidekick Power” section of this article because Eric Decker makes a very good adjustment on this route. However, it shows up here because Fitzpatrick shows good awareness by moving up in the pocket and making a good throw while on the run. The Bills have this play covered fairly well, but Fitzpatrick makes a nice low throw, and Decker makes a great adjustment to the route. He under-cuts the deep safety to make this play, showing off veteran field presence.
The Bills are in a single high safety look again with presumably man coverage as a pre-snap read. The linebackers drop back to take away the middle of the field with Enunwa, and the outside CBs have good coverage on both Decker and Marshall. Fitzpatrick makes a great throw to Marshall on this play for the long completion. There is no instance on this play where Marshall is open, but he shows off why he’s considered an elite WR by catching a ball when he’s well covered. The route on this is somewhat complicated, because the CB wants to filter Marshall towards the middle of the field where he has safety help. Marshall pulls off an inside fake, and then throws the CB inside, causing him to turn around and lose positioning. He is half a step behind Marshall, but it’s a back shoulder pass, which makes this catch harder because Marshall has to slow down to catch the pass. However, Marshall takes advantage of his physical size and just over-powers the CB for the catch. This is another great throw, with good timing.
A heart stopping moment for all Jets fans, as Brandon Marshall is on the receiving end of a cheap tackle and penalty, injuring his knee on the play. This is a third and three play, and many Jets fans have seen this numerous times with a Rex Ryan defense. This is pretty much an all out blitz by the Bills, with man coverage across the board. The Bills bring 7 rushers on this play, with the other 4 staying back on the 4 WRs out on this play. Remember when the Bills showed blitz earlier in the game, and Fitzpatrick ran for the first down? In this instance, they follow through on the threat and brought the blitz. Once again, Fitz looks to his left for his hot read, and realizes that it is open, and makes an easy throw to Marshall. Marshall has a one on one match-up with the CB with no one else to impede the way, and it looked like he would stiff arm the CB before running into the end zone. The CB makes a cheap tackle by grabbing the face mask and twisting Marshall to the ground. While, this was a penalty, a play like this needs to be treated similarly to targeting, as there is no downside for the CB here. Marshall most likely runs over this CB, so grabbing his face mask has minimal consequence to the CB, while causing possible injury to the receiver. There are instances where it’s incidental face mask, but this was a blatant penalty that should result in a fine. Thankfully, Marshall was fine later in the game.
The Bills try to confuse the Jets on this play, and it back-fires on them. The Jets have a bunch formation to the right of the line, with Brandon Marshall to the left side. The Bills have a CB on Marshall, and a safety lined up behind him, essentially taking away the inside and outside pass to him. This is one of the biggest benefits of having an elite WR, because the defense has to dedicate special coverage to take away star WRs. On this play, it helps clear one safety from the middle of the field. Quincy Enunwa runs a good route, while Fitzpatrick steps up in the pocket and makes a good throw. Notice this route pattern up top, with a shallow crossing route, a intermediate crossing route, and a deep crossing route, as it will show up later in this review. Fitzpatrick makes a very good throw here in the middle of the zone for a good completion. His lack of arm strength is well documented, but he showed some good zip on throws in this game.
What effect does the emergence of Enunwa have? Notice Enunwa on this play, and the triangle formed around him with Bills defenders. Earlier in the drive, Enunwa caught two deep passes over the middle, and the Bills decided that they need to focus attention on him. Brandon Marshall appears to be doubled teamed at the pre-snap read, but the LB does not follow Marshall down the field, making this an easy back shoulder pitch and catch. The CB does not have immediate safety help to the inside, so he tries to run step for step with Marshall, therefore the back shoulder pass and catch is an easy completion. If Enunwa wasn’t a threat down the middle of the field, there is more of a chance the safety would be helping out with Marshall on this play. While, Fitzpatrick and Marshall got together for this play, it’s Enunwa who has the biggest impact on this play with his presence from earlier on in the drive.
The influence of Enunwa Part 2. The Jets come with 3 WRs to the right side of the formation, with Enunwa going in motion. The read on this play is the CB playing on Decker. If the CB goes with Decker, then it’s a short pass to Enunwa for a short gain. However, the Bills show their infatuation with stopping Enunwa by double teaming him again on a short pass. The CB passes Decker to a safety, who promptly gets beaten to the corner by Decker, making this an easy completion. Also notice with the route with Decker on this play. When the safety takes over the coverage, he is about 2 yards to the inside of Decker, who makes a simple turn to the sideline and has a lane for a wide open pass. This play breaks down because Quincy Enunwa emerged as a dangerous weapon, making life much easier for Decker. Remember how at the start of the game, the Bills wanted to take away Decker and Marshall in critical spots? They got burned by Enunwa because of it, and they abandoned the idea.
If you go back and read last week’s article, you will notice that the Jets missed a big opportunity for a TD against the Bengals in a very similar situation. The Jets had first down inside the 5 yard line, and the defense sold out for the run defense. Last week, Enunwa was open for an inside slant route in the end zone, but Fitzpatrick didn’t read it correctly, and threw a bad pass to Marshall. In this instance, Eric Decker ran the Enunwa route (albeit this time, there were only 2 WRs on the field) and Fitzpatrick read it for an easy TD. The Bills are selling out for the run here because almost everyone comes running towards the line at the snap, except for the two corners. Fitz makes a good throw, and Decker makes a good catch on this play.
This play doesn’t count, because Ryan Clady got a penalty for holding, but this might have been the best pass by Fitzpatrick in his Jets career. Decker going in motion is a great call here because the Bills are caught in a bad situation for the deep pass to the right side of the formation. Marshall has lined up on the left side, and there is a CB and safety lined up there to double team him. However, on the right side, the safety is in the intermediate area, putting him in a bad position to cover a deep pass. It’s unknown if this was an audible by Fitzpatrick or a pre-set play by Gailey, but it’s a genius move to create match-up issues when both receivers should be double covered on this play. The Jets noticed the Bills lining up in a position that put them at a disadvantage for a deep pass to the right side, and they took advantage of it. It all goes for naught with the penalty, but it was a brilliant play call.
The Bills come out with a single high safety look and man coverage on the WRs. The pre-snap read shows that a safety is matched up with Enunwa, and Fitzpatrick rightfully looks towards him at the start of the play. However, the Bills are still concerned with his presence and drop back a LB into the middle to take away the pass to Enunwa. Fitzpatrick adjusts by making a great back shoulder pass to Marshall. Notice how Marshall got his defender to turn his hips before he reaches the point of the throw. It’s a good progression read by Fitzpatrick, and a good throw.
The Jets are lined up with three WRs again, although Jalin Marshall replaces Quincy Enunwa. The initial read on this play is Brandon Marshall to the right side of the formation with a quick pass, but Fitzpatrick quickly discerns that Jalin Marshall should be open down the field for a reception. He makes a good throw, and Marshall makes a good catch in the middle. This looks like an audible from Fitzpatrick, because the pre-snap read indicates that Marshall should be wide open. There is no one covering him directly at the time of the audible, so it would be presumed that the safety would run towards him at the snap, causing him to be at a bad angle to stop him when Marshall cuts inside since his momentum would be heading the other direction. However, the safety moves about a second before the snap, setting him up to be in good, but not great, position for Marshall. Jalin runs a good route to create separation, and Fitzpatrick makes a good throw. In this case, the Bills wanted to bait the Jets into passing towards Jalin Marshall, but the Jets executed anyway.
Another big third down play in the game, and the Jets come through again. The Jets line up with 3 WRs and a TE, and the Bills counter with man coverage and two intermediate safeties. The Bills decide to double team Decker on this play, which leaves one on one coverage with Jalin Marshall. He wins the match-up with the CB and it’s a great back shoulder pass, and good hands catch. When the Jets picked up three WRs this year from the draft (and UDFA) one thing stood out on their college tapes: an ability to win one on one match-ups. They did not have the best of stats, but all three of them consistently showed that given an one on one match-up, they could end up the victor. With both Decker and Marshall on the team, they are going to be shown man coverage more often than not, so they are excellent complimentary pieces to the offense right now.
The Jets come with a play action pass here, and Eric Decker absolutely schools the CB on this route. There is nothing fancy about this throw, Decker just runs a double move on the CB and gets wide open, and Fitzpatrick hits him for a long completion.
Side Kick Power:
This is a designed WR screen to Enunwa, but on a 3rd down play, it’s a safe pass and there was a decent chance it gets stopped for a loss. Fitzpatrick makes a quick throw, but as you can see from the blocking, both Decker and Jalin Marshall go right into blocking. The play is partially in danger because both Jalin and Decker go for the same defender at first, but Marshall reroutes himself, and goes to the inside blocker. It may have been the wrong block, as the outside defender has a free shot on Enunwa. From the looks of it, it was supposed to be blocks on the two outside defenders, and Enunwa beating the intermediate safety using his speed. Enunwa makes a good move in the open field, and runs for the first down. This is a broken play, but Enunwa makes it work with his athleticism.
This is a play with Brandon Marshall out, and Robby Anderson has replaced him in the lineup, albeit, you can not see it in this angle. The Bills play with single high safety, but Anderson’s speed holds off the safety. The Bills were afraid enough of Anderson’s deep speed that they had bump coverage at the line with a deep safety shading over to his side. This is the safety that comes into view late in this play. The Bills again try to confuse the QB with a LB bump on Enunwa, who then drops back into coverage towards Decker, if the pre-snap read was man coverage on Decker. However, Fitzpatrick makes the right read on this play, and realizes that Enunwa is going to be open in the middle. However, the throw is behind him, and Enunwa makes a great adjustment to the pass in full stride to make this catch. This is an elite WR type catch, and one he would not have made last year.
The Bills come out with a single high safety, plus an intermediate safety on this play. It’s a second down play, on the final touchdown drive, but the pre-snap read indicates man coverage with a safety in the middle. The read for Fitzpatrick is the deep safety, and go away from where he is leaning. It’s one of the bigger advantages of having two elite WRs, because teams have to choose their poison. In this instance, the deep safety rolls towards the side of Brandon Marshall, leaving Decker open for the deep pass. A pass in stride, and this might be a TD, but Fitzpatrick throws this pass behind the WR, who makes a great adjustment on the catch.
The Jets come out in a 4 WR formation here, with Brandon Marshall at the left side of the formation, with Jalin, Decker, and Enunwa on the right side. The Bills are essentially double teaming Brandon Marshall on this play, with a CB and a safety directly over him. This makes the play have to go towards the right side. The read here is Enunwa, Marshall, Decker. As soon as Fitzpatrick can see a LB head towards Enunwa, he looks towards Marshall. If Marshall is well covered, then he has a one on one deep pass option to Decker. The design on this play is impeccable, as there are three legitimate options here based on the movement of one LB. Fitzpatrick makes the right read, and throws a good pass to Jalin Marshall, but the rookie fumbles the ball fighting for more yards. While he showed valiant effort in trying to get extra yards, he has to secure this ball in such a situation.
The Jets come out in a 5 WR look, with Forte completing the formation as a WR. This is a 3rd and 10 play in the third quarter, with the Jets down four points. The Bills show a single high safety look with man coverage across the board. However, when Forte leaves the backfield, the Bills are caught in an audible. The Bills LB is spinning around yelling out the audible when the ball is quick snapped, throwing off the position of the LBs on this play. They are caught in the middle. The Bengals last week timed the Jets snaps almost perfectly, so it was paramount that the Jets change their snap times this week, and this is a good example. This play ends up being a 3 man rush, with the LBs in the middle taken out of the play. Fitzpatrick notices man coverage on Brandon Marshall, and throws up a deep pass, that is intentionally hanging because the CB has his head turned. It works as a back shoulder pass since it has the same effect, but any NFL WR should make this catch. Brandon Marshall makes a horrible drop on this pass, especially considering the situation and the ease of this catch.
This is the first play of the game for the Jets, and an absolutely horrible pass. The Jets come out with Brandon Marshall and Decker as the WRs, with Forte in the backfield. The Jets run a play action bootleg to the right, and the play here is really Marshall running across the middle. However, the Bills have Marshall well covered on this play, and Fitzpatrick makes a lazy throw to Bostick. The back shoulder pass to Decker was open on this play, but Fitzpatrick misses the pass. The miss with Decker isn’t horrible because the timing of these reads are a bit off, but this throw is absolutely useless. It’s very similar to the throw from Bryce Petty in the pre-season that was intercepted and returned for a TD. There is no upside for this play because at best, you get back to the line of scrimmage. Fitzpatrick was much better off just running with the ball here because this risks an unnecessary tip for no upside at all.
This is an excellent play design and Decker runs a great route on this play. He essentially runs a triple route and has a double coverage beat. Fitzpatrick recognizes this, but fails to step up in the pocket with a rusher coming from the outside. Fitzpatrick even looks in that direction while executing the play action, but pays for his lack of movement in the pocket with a fumble. The Jets recovered, but this was an excellent call by the offense that should have gone for a large amount of yards. Enunwa is the secondary option on this play, and he has a chance to be open in the middle as well. Fitzpatrick has to do a better job of stepping up in the pocket in this case.
If Fitzpatrick failed to step up in the pocket last time, he does a good job of doing it here. However, he fails to look downfield as he’s moving up, missing a wide open Enunwa for an easy TD. This is a 2nd and 6 play, and Fitzpatrick takes the yards in front of him. Usually with mobile QBs, we hear the term that he’s looking downfield when he’s running to see where his receivers are breaking open. In this case, he wasn’t looking downfield, because he missed an easy TD to Enunwa.
This is just a flat out bad throw, as Fitzpatrick gets a good pocket and an open WR. The Jets line up with three receivers to the left (Jalin Marshall, Decker, Enunwa) and the Bills are showing coverage with deep corners and safeties, opening up the inside slant routes. The LBs are playing up the middle trying to take away the shorter routes, with the safeties and corners playing over the top. Jalin Marshall makes a good move, and Fitzpatrick correctly surmises that he is open. However, it’s a bad throw behind the WR that goes for an incomplete pass.
The Jets come out in a 4 WR set, with Jalin Marshall on the move before the snap. This same exact play was run earlier on a completion to Enunwa on the middle, but in this case, Fitzpatrick tries to hit Decker deep and misses. The same exact pass as the prior play, a pass to Enunwa, is open as well but Fitzpatrick bypasses that for the deep shot. The Jets were down at this point in the third quarter, and this was a 2nd and 10 play, so it was paramount to make a completion here. Decker runs a good route here, but the throw is further up than Decker anticipated, and falls for an incomplete pass.
The Bills once again come with a single high safety look, with a LB that fakes dropping back. This is a microcosm of Fitzpatrick’s biggest problem: He locks into a WR from the start, causing defenders to swarm the area. From the onset of this play, he is locked in on Marshall, and the best thing that could have happened on this play was an incomplete pass. There is a one on one match up with Decker or Enunwa on the other side of the field, but Fitzpatrick ignores that side of the field. This is a terrible decision to lock into Marshall, and a bad throw, although a good throw probably would have intercepted.
For the entire run of this article series, this has been the best that Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked in a Jets uniform. He threw the ball deep and made good reads for the most part, although his WRs were paramount in making tough catches. However, there were numerous throws that were right on the button, and perfectly placed. Rex Ryan’s defense also did a bad job of adjusting throughout the game, maintaining a similar or predictable look from the on-set. The single high safety look was doomed because the Jets have 4 legitimate receiving threats on offense, but the Bills rarely went away from that look. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t perfect by any means, but he played at a very high level.
Fitzpatrick Grade: A-
A) What grade would you give Fitzpatrick?
B) How and why do you think he improved from last week?
C) What is wrong with Buffalo’s defensive philosophy?