Ryan Fitzpatrick has been bad, but Jets can still contend

Sam Monson explains why the Jets are a potential playoff team in the AFC, even though QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was awful against Miami.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been bad, but Jets can still contend


The Jets are 3-1 and might be the only team in the AFC East capable of challenging the Patriots. While the Dolphins implode, and the Bills can’t quite string it together for long enough to keep a winning streak going, the Jets look good enough to win even when the worst version of Ryan Fitzpatrick turns up, as happened in London against Miami this weekend.

Ryan Fitzpatrick earned a -6.3 passing grade, the lowest of the week for any quarterback this week, thanks to some horrendous decisions with the ball. He completed just 55.2 percent of his passes and threw for only 218 yards, but it is the plays that weren’t necessarily counted that really build up the disastrous score.

In addition to the one awful pick he did throw, there were four other extremely dangerous throws that could have resulted in turnovers, including one that was actually dropped by a defender (Zackary Bowman, the same player that did pick him off later in the game).

That’s about as badly as Fitzpatrick (or most QBs) can play, and yet the Jets still won, by two scores. A lot of that is due to Miami’s 2015 synchronized collapse, but a lot of it also down to the players around Fitzpatrick performing.

Chris Ivory when healthy is an excellent running back, and he will do well to have a better game than this. 29 carries saw him notch 166 rushing yards and a touchdown, but he needed to generate 110 of those yards himself after first contact. He did that by forcing nine missed tackles along the way, averaging 3.8 yards per carry after contact.

With Fitzpatrick playing the way he was, the passing game was never going to be red hot, but Brandon Marshall (in this game) and Eric Decker (over the season) have been playing well. Marshall was impressive against his old team, catching seven of the 11 targets sent his way for 128 yards, with 58 of them coming after the catch. First-round pick Devin Smith’s year has been derailed by a bad injury before the season even began, but his potential to make an impact on this offense later is real.

On defense the Jets have performers at every level. Cornerback Darrelle Revis has been back to his best this season, allowing just 45 percent of the passes thrown his way to be caught for a passer rating of 23.8, while David Harris looks reborn in a defensive scheme a little kinder to its linebackers than Rex Ryan’s.

Up front, Muhammad Wilkerson has been doing much of the heavy lifting this season, but rookie Leonard Williams exploded into action against Miami, notching four hits and six hurries in that game alone. Playing against Jamil Douglas at RG for the Dolphins certainly helped that performance, but that’s now two good performances in a row for Williams, and he has yet to have a bad game.

The Jets certainly have their problems, of which Fitzpatrick is chief among them if he repeats performances like the one against Miami, but they have proven they can win in spite of his worst play. If they can get more of the kind of performances he had over the first two weeks of the season, then they can still push the Patriots for the division.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Anonymous

    So nothing about how the “awful” pick he threw was blatant pass interference then?

    Nothing about how he made some excellent decisions scrambling the pocket and not taking sacks?

    Figured we’d hear nothing about that. Or about how 2 of his picks last week were tipped balls (one a drop by his own receiver)…

    • disqus_QJvQVaRVXr

      Make sure you don’t choke on that cape, hero.

    • disqus_QJvQVaRVXr

      Make sure you don’t choke on that cape, hero.

    • Sean Grogan

      That lack of a Pass Interference Call was absurd. I’ve never seen someone literally hit someone so far down field and not get the call, especially since they had no problem calling PI against the Jets yesterday…but he had 3/4 scrambles yesterday that were amazing, partly because he looked like me trying to stay on my feet after stumbling out of a bar at last call. His play is the definition of “Journeyman” but for now I don’t mind it

  • JT

    1 Andy Dalton, CIN W 36-21 vs KC in Wk 4 8.7 0.4 0.0 -0.4 8.7 32 9.6 7.1 95.3

    2 Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ W 27-14 @ MIA in Wk 4 4.8 3.0 0.0 0.0 7.8 43 10.9 7.5 91.4

    3 Nick Foles, STL W 24-22 @ ARI in Wk 4 6.4 0.0 -0.8 -0.3 5.4 29 5.6 3.2 81.9

  • JT

    1 Andy Dalton, CIN W 36-21 vs KC in Wk 4 8.7 0.4 0.0 -0.4 8.7 32 9.6 7.1 95.3

    2 Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ W 27-14 @ MIA in Wk 4 4.8 3.0 0.0 0.0 7.8 43 10.9 7.5 91.4

    3 Nick Foles, STL W 24-22 @ ARI in Wk 4 6.4 0.0 -0.8 -0.3 5.4 29 5.6 3.2 81.9

  • Louismreale

    Sam you and your statistics suck. Fiitz is the man, the QB, the leader of this team. He does it with his superior intellect, his feet and yes his arm too (he threw two passing TDs.) so shove them Buddy and shut up because we Jet fans like winning for a change.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      they’re not statistic based grades…

    • Nik Hildebrand

      Did you watch the game in London? Fitz made some really dumb-looking throws. He had some good plays, too, but it was a bad outing for him overall.

      As a Jets fan, I am enjoying winning, but I’m not going to pretend that the team can do no wrong.

      • Louismreale

        Bullshit he was fine until he got kicked in the head (4 for 4) by Suh and the Refs did nothing. So he used his head and ran for 1st downs. The guys a gamer. He is refreshing for a change, a real Quarterback for the Jets, not since Joe Willy. Stop picking on the guy. He keeps improving with experience each year.

  • Louismreale

    Sam you and your statistics suck. Fiitz is the man, the QB, the leader of this team. He does it with his superior intellect, his feet and yes his arm too (he threw two passing TDs.) so shove them Buddy and shut up because we Jet fans like winning for a change.

  • DLC

    I agree with you that Fitzpatrick avoided disaster on a couple of throws that could have been intercepted, but the one pick he did throw was so blatantly caused by defensive pass interference that it was laughable. How could the officials have missed that?

  • Mike C

    stupid headline to grab attention. Fitz has been good and bad, but way more good. How about those two beautiful TD passes? and some really nice runs? Please don’t tell us about “almost” interceptions. Are you really serious in writing about “almost” interceptions? Even the very best QBs have some “almost” interceptions in every game. If we are including “almosts” in our evaluation, then you have to also include the additional “almost” TD passes that Fitz threw. C’mon man! Write something intelligent, please.

  • dmfeld22

    It’ll be difficult for the Jets to sustain winning, and or push the patriots, if they have to hide their QB. Your assessments say a lot about the power of the defense, Ivory and the run game. It also, unfortunately, says Geno Smith is not trustworthy per the team. Against the Dolphins the secondary was only so-so as it looked like receivers were open all over the place. Tannehill’s horrible game contributed mightily although Marcus Williams and Revis (sans the penalty) played great.