Ryan Fitzpatrick: It's More Than the Interceptions
by John B Oct 5, 2016, 11:00a
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
"He has nine interceptions in two games."
That is the something you hear a lot about Ryan Fitzpatrick these day. Alas, if only it was this simple. There are plays from Sunday's game that just make you go crazy.
Here is a red zone play where the Jets have three receivers lined up to his right. Presumably this is where his primary read would be. On the other side he only has Kellen Davis. Brandon Marshall is on the inside.
Marshall is on the inside. There is a window to get him this ball.
He ends up checking the ball down to Bilal Powell, though. This was the controversial early play where a Powell fumble was taken away as the play was called incomplete
Was the play supposed to go to Powell? It wasn't a screen. There are no blockers there. Seattle isn't really an aggressive defense that you can catch on a blitz either so I'm not sure this was by design. I also have my doubts that in a red zone situation your first look would be on a side with only one receiver by the name of Kellen Davis while Marshall is on the other side with three guys running a route combination.
Here's another play that is less than a thing of beauty. It looks like a one man pattern against Richard Sherman. I don't think it was by design, though. I think Fitzpatrick was looking, saw Sherman late to his position, and tried to take advantage by changing the play on the fly with Enunwa.
Sherman still isn't at his position by the time the ball is snapped but close enough to make a play.
By the time the throw is made, Sherman has Enunwa blanketed
Enunwa and Fitzpatrick aren't on the same page.
You can see here that the Jets are blocking this like a run play. It isn't play action since there's no attempt to give Matt Forte the ball. Forte doesn't even seem to know what to do when he doesn't get it.
Fitzpatrick did this on his own with Enunwa, but overestimated the timing and ability to catch a cornerback as great as Sherman. In the process, a really dangerous throw is made.
Here he has a screen set up on his right hand side, but he's intent going one on one with Marshall against Sherman. The problem is Marshall isn't one on one.
Look at how much ground Thomas has closed by the time the ball is on its way out.
This may or may not be an "interceptable pass" but it is a poor decision and a dangerous throw. To be fair to Fitzpatrick, the Jets blow an assignment up front that gets him hit. The screen would not have been there to go back to him because the line is sliding left, and the back doesn't pick up the rusher on the edge.
Still, this is not the right play. I don't know whether the first option was to throw a timing play to Marshall, but the presnap situation indicates the screen on the other side was set up.
Now let's move onto an underthrow on a deep ball to Robby Anderson. Here I'm not convinced the greatest sin was necessarily an off target pass. It was the decision-making process that led to the pass.
This third down play is schemed pretty well. Charone Peake comes into motion to line up near Brandon Marshall.
At the snap, Peake's route helps set a legal pick on Sherman to set Marshall free.
Marshall isn't a lock to get a first down if the ball is coming his way, but he does have enough daylight to potentially get to the sticks.
Fitzpatrick isn't looking in his way. Such is life without a quarterback who can't see the field.
On his side, though, there is Bilal Powell who might be a block and making one man miss away from picking up the first down.
Rather than trusting one of his top playmakers such as Powell who had converted a number of catches underneath into first downs by getting to the sticks, Fitzpatrick decides he is going to trust an undrafted rookie seeing his first real NFL action. As you can see, Anderson has no separation at the time the ball is thrown. Yes he does break free, but that is partially because he is going at top speed rather than tracking the ball once it is in the air. Yes, if Fitzpatrick throws it in front of him, it could be a touchdown. Still, this is a low percentage play with a play being run specifically to free up his number one receiver and a second option with a proficiency for converting plays like this being ignored.
It has been a story too frequent in a long NFL career. He cannot see the whole field and is forcing the ball where it doesn't make sense. When it makes sense to go to Marshall, he isn't looking.
It isn't just that he's throwing interceptions. It is that the thought process is bad on too many plays. Again, this is no great shock. If you watched the film for long chunks of last season, there was plenty of bad but also enough stretches of good to be effective.
Now you have a quarterback who seems so unsure of what to do that he's taking sacks and losing yardage when he could easily throw passes away.
It isn't just the interceptions. There are too many plays being left on the field