The bridge to future needs to be short

Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) throws a pass in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) throws a pass in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets have had a rocky preseason so far.  The team should have a short leash on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite the $12M contract. They should not wait to go to their backup, no matter who it is.

The preseason games for the New York Jets have started slowly.  The first ended in a win, and the second ended in a heart-breaking last-second loss to the Washington Redskins.  The slow starts are a reminder of last season’s slow start out of the gate. They started 2-0. However, a good record isn’t always indicative of a good start.

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Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick also set the team record for touchdowns in a season.  In addition, wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker became the first Jets teammates to each score at least 10 receiving touchdowns in the same season.  With that said, the team’s offense was still inconsistent.

In the first two games, their defense gave them plenty of opportunities to score, but they failed to do so. They scored only 51 points total in games that their defense had ten takeaways.

That theme would continue all season long. They ended up finishing the season with 30 takeaways.  However, they only scored 91 points off of them.  According to Sporting Charts, five teams had at least 100 points off of turnovers in 2015. Only two of those teams made the NFL Playoffs.  However, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who made the playoffs, scored 98 points off of 30 takeaways.

In addition to that, the Jets’ defense had 14 takeaways lead to possessions in opponents’ territory.  The results were not what we should expect from a quality offense:

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Part of the reason the Jets were unsuccessful was because of their quarterback’s limited arm strength.

This led teams to dare him to throw deep and outside the numbers by stacking the box.

Advanced stats showed even more holes in Fitzpatrick’s game.

Dom Cosentino of showed us in a recent article called “What advanced stats say about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2015 season” what detailed stats say about his game.

Cosentino got information from Cian Fahey of the advanced stats site Football Outsiders.  According to Fahey, Fitzpatrick threw an interceptable ball on 18.7% of his passes.  In addition, seven of his touchdowns came on passes that didn’t travel more than two yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

It appears that quarterback Bryce Petty will be the backup in 2016.  It also appears that his arm is at least equal to that of quarterback Geno Smith.  In addition, his decision making appears better than both Smith and Fitzpatrick.

Some will note that he’s playing against vanilla defenses and third-stringers.  Regardless of the competition, good decision making is still that.

A strong-arm quarterback will open up the playbook.  Not only does it allow for long passes, short passes can open up in the middle of the field for yards after the catch.

The Jets were 19th and 21st in total yards after catch and percentage of total yards coming from yards after the catch, respectively.  Six of the twelve NFL playoff teams were ahead in both categories.  The Pittsburgh Steelers were ahead in total yards after the catch, and the Seattle Seahawks were ahead in the later.

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Record notwithstanding, a slow start should trigger a change.  Many experts and fans said the team should re-sign Fitzpatrick because of the chemistry developed from last season.  With youth permeating the receiving corps as well, it will be good to get the young quarterback in there to develop chemistry, regardless of who is the backup.