The Jets lost another game this season, with a lopsided defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers during this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a mediocre game, as the Jets seemed to go extremely conservative in their offense against a Steelers defense that was middle of the road at best. Let’s examine how the passing offense fared this week:
Unlike many other good defenses, the Steelers start off the game with a two safety, and the Jets promptly take advantage. The offense lines up with four receivers with Kellen Davis acting as an H-back on this play. The pre-snap read on this is simple, because they have three receivers on the left side of the formation, with only two CBs covering them directly. There is a safety deep as well as a LB in zone coverage, but this is extremely susceptible to the short pass. Fitzpatrick recognizes this fact, and makes a good throw to Quincy Enunwa, who runs for the first down. This is a good play design against the defense, and a good read by Fitzpatrick prior to the snap. The only downside of this play is that Ryan Fitzpatrick is staring down Enunwa from the start of the play.
The very next play, and the offense comes out with another empty backfield set. The Steelers have adjusted from the initial play and go to a single safety look, and show man coverage across the field. The pre-snap read would indicate the same idea as the previous play, where the receivers to the left of the formation have a good opportunity here because the defenders are far off from them, and they do get open. However, Fitzpatrick is locked into Marshall from the start of this play, and Marshall runs an absolutely great route even though it’s subtle. He runs slightly to the outside, which forces the CB to turn his hips, and then runs inside and straight, which causes the CB to do a 180 degree turn leading to separation. Fitzpatrick makes the throw as Marshall is making his break, and it’s a very good connection. This is a very good example of how a true No. 1 can create separation even though this is man coverage with a safety over the top shading over to his side because of subtle moves.
This is a good play design by Chan Gailey as this acts as more of a screen pass than anything. The defense has gone to a single high safety look again, and is showing man coverage again. The good part of this design is that the Jets have two tight ends on this play, meaning they have three receivers to the right side of the formation, although it only looks like they have one. The defense isn’t prepared for this, as they only have one CB, and one LB lined up over the options on the right. The second LB is lined up towards the middle, so the read on this play is the outside LB. If the outside LB goes towards Kellen Davis, then the pass is to Brandon Bostick. If the LB decides to stick to Bostick, then the pass is to Davis because the LB in the middle will not have inside position on this play due to his pre-snap positioning. While it looks like a broken play because of the free rusher, this is an exceptional play design by Gailey, and a very good read by Fitzpatrick. He correctly surmises that the advantage is on the right side of the formation, and picks the correct reaction to the read of the LB and makes a positive play.
This is a 3rd and 8 play in the first quarter, and the defense is again playing a single high safety, but the LBs have dropped back near the first down line to protect against the intermediate pass. The Jets have four wide with a RB in the backfield, and they have options all over for this pass. First, Charone Peake is open on an fake out slant route for a pass. Secondly, Robby Anderson is absolutely blowing by his defender so if they want to take a shot deep on this play, it is there for the taking. Brandon Marshall is also open on this play in the intermediate area, and Fitzpatrick hits him for a big first down. It’s a great throw and catch between the QB and the star WR. The interesting aspect of this play is really the play of the corner that is defending Robby Anderson. Notice how he slows down completely near the first down marker, showing no fear of the deep pass, because teams are just not afraid of Fitzpatrick passing deep. These are the types of passes that the defense gives up for huge plays, but the offense can’t take advantage of such situation. While this is a good play and conversion of 3rd down, this could have been an opportunity to go deep. The only other downside of this play is Fitzpatrick staring down Marshall on this play from the start.
This is not a spectacular play, but wanted to highlight the change of direction from Brandon Marshall. The defense is again in single high safety look, with the Steelers showing an A gap blitz look, only to back out into man coverage. Fitzpatrick is going to his hot pass read here because he has every reason to assume this is going to be a blitz, and Marshall makes a very good cut to get open here. Fitzpatrick does a very good job of hitting Marshall in stride, allowing him to move a bit after the catch. While Fitzpatrick is locked into Marshall here, he can’t be blamed much because this looks like a hot read pass against a possible blitz.
Another play, and another example of the defense showing single high safety. This is an instance where the pre-snap read is ignored, but the play ends up being a positive anyway. This is a second and four play in the second quarter. The Jets have three receivers to the right side of the play, with two defenders matched up in man coverage at the line. However, Quincy Enunwa has a free release here with his defender giving him about eight yards at the snap, so the pre-snap read should have said that the left side of the field would have been open with at least one receiver. However, newly minted Jet Austin Seferian-Jenkins was matched up one on one to the right of the formation, and Fitzpatrick hits him near the sideline for the first down. It’s a good throw and catch from the new teammates, showing good chemistry and timing on this play.
This is a second and five play in the second quarter near midfield, with the defense again showing single high safety. The Jets are going with an empty set, but as you can see, this is a good pre-snap read. The Jets have two potential receivers lined up to the left of the formation, but they are both covered at the line with defenders, with the possibility of a double team, thus the pre-snap indicates that the play is to the right side of the formation. To the right side of the field, the Jets have three receivers, but two of them have defenders playing well back of the line, thus susceptible to crossing routes. The inside slot receivers job (looks like Forte) is to essentially run a pick play on the defender for Enunwa, and he does a good job slowing down the defender. Enunwa then runs a very good route, because he doesn’t just run across the field but turns up field before cutting back across again. Fitzpatrick finds him in the middle for this big conversion. There was a holding penalty on this play, which was declined. The only downside of this is that Fitzpatrick is again locked into Enunwa from the start, and that the throw is a bit behind Enunwa on this play, although he still makes the catch. It’s a very big conversion for the Jets.
The whole Chan Gailey offense is built on pre-snap reads and attacking weaknesses. In this instance, the defense is again lined up in a single high safety for a second and ten play in the second quarter. The offense comes out with five receivers and the pre-snap read on this play is to the right side of the formation. The Jets have three receivers to the right side of the play, with one of the defenders giving up about seven yards, indicating that a short out route will be open. While there is a hindsight argument here, please keep in mind the QB knows the routes beforehand as well. The easy read and play would have been the short pass to Enunwa here. However, Fitzpatrick is locked into Marshall from the start, who makes a great move to get open and Fitzpatrick throws a perfect pass to him. He sees a LB running towards him, so the pass is towards the outside shoulder so Marshall can turn and run to the sideline after the pass. Notice how Marshall throws off the defender with a slight stutter at the line of scrimmage, then outside, and then directly at the CB. The defender doesn’t have time to set his feet, which allows Marshall to be more physical and create separation.
Another great route by Marshall on this play. The defense is in single high safety, and the Jets initially come out with five wide outs, but Matt Forte is called back to the backfield. Fitzpatrick is locked into Marshall from the start of this play, and the star WR rewards the attention with a beautiful route to get open. Notice how Marshall slants inside just a bit at the start, then quickly goes outside causing the defender to turn his hips towards the sidelines. This little movement causes a delayed reaction to Marshall move inside on the slant allowing him to be open. Fitzpatrick hits him for a decent gain. Brandon Marshall gets praise as a big physical receiver, rightly so, but he’s very advanced with his route running, which gets overlooked at times because of his sheer physical capabilities.
The defense reverts to a two safety look, and the Jets get a big conversion. This is another example of pre-snap reads in the Chan Gailey offense, because the Jets have four receivers and a H-back option in Kellen Davis. The pre-snap read shows that while the Jets have two possible receivers to the right of the formation, the defense has potentially three guys near the line of scrimmage there, indicating the chances of a completion to be minimal. However, on the other side they have three receivers and all the defenders are giving up sizable yards showing that shallow crossing routes should be open. Fitzpatrick recognizes this and looks towards that side, and locks into Quincy Enunwa for the conversion. Robby Anderson is also open on this play. This is not a progressive read play where Fitzpatrick scanned the field to find the soft spot, but rather reading the defense at the line and finding the presumed weak spot. Again, as usual, the only weak point of this play is Fitzpatrick staring down Enunwa.
This the play following the turnover by the Steelers as the Jets tries to get back into the game. While the defense is in a single high safety, the corners on the outside are far back. In most cases, this might be an audible because the defense is indicating a double coverage on Brandon Marshall. The other side CB on Robby Anderson seems to be deep without any help so a crossing route from Anderson would be wide open, but the Jets make no such audible. The Steelers do try to double Marshall but the LB seems to jump a hot route pass, negating the double team. Marshall runs across the field, and Fitzpatrick hits him in stride to get the first down. This is a good throw and catch.
The Steelers are again in a single high safety look, but at this point in the game they are giving up yards to take time off the clock. The Jets have two receivers to the right, with defenders somewhat close by on both of them. On the left side of the formation, the defender on Robby Anderson is a good ten yards off the line, allowing for an easy completion to the WR. This is another play that is made purely on pre-snap reads because it’s easy to see where the mismatches are, especially knowing the routes of the receivers, and Fitzpatrick makes a good throw here. The ball is placed a bit low, preventing Anderson from getting yards after the catch. This is actually one play where Fitzpatrick isn’t locked in on Anderson from the start, as the initial read seems to be the middle but Fitzpatrick quickly moves on to Anderson.
This play is here mainly for effort, as it happens on the last drive of the game with the Jets well out of the game. The Steelers are in a two deep safety look and the defenders have dropped back trying to prevent anything thrown intermediate to deep. Fitzpatrick panics in the pocket and runs towards the rush, but does a great job of escaping the sack and finding Powell for a few yards. While this isn’t a great play, it does show that Fitzpatrick didn’t quit on this play, as he could have taken the sack easily when first tackled at the feet.
Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t horrible in this game, and he did have some good throws. He shows the same weakness as before in that he locks into his receivers, showing little ability to scan the field if his primary option is not open. The Jets didn’t take many risks with the game play, which was wise with the turnover prone Fitzpatrick, but this also meant that they could not take advantage of a bad secondary.
Please read the next part in our weekly film series, Assistant’s Failures, which will be posted shortly, after which “Sidekick Power” and “Bad Magic” will be posted.