This week, Bent analyzes Week 4 performances by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and the team's running backs, Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa and the Wide Receivers, Brian Winters and the Offensive Line, Calvin Pryor and the Defensive Backs, Darron Lee and the Linebackers, Leonard Williams and the Defensive Line and Jeremy Ross and special teams.
To read each section, scroll down or jump to them by clicking the above topic...
Bent: Fitzpatrick can play well. He did last year, especially down the stretch (final game meltdown in the Buffalo aside). Can he work his way out of this slump, though? And, having invested $12 million to bring him back, how much rope will the team give him?
The irony is that Fitzpatrick didn't play that badly for most of yesterday's game. He was reasonably accurate, made good decisions and got the Jets back into the game just before halftime with a great touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. Once again, though, his stat-line looks a lot worse than it would have because the Jets were trailing and he was forced to take some chances. The second of his three interceptions bounced up off the hands of a receiver and the third one was another forced throw at a time when the Jets had no real option but to try and force things with time running out.
His first interception was the most crucial. With the Jets close to midfield and down by seven, Fitzpatrick went to the well one too many times. His pass was thrown up on the assumption that Marshall would win his match-up on the outside. That's not an unreasonable chance to take - he had done so on the previous snap and Fitzpatrick found him for a first down. There's not a lot Fitzpatrick can do about that, other than not taking that chance, but where would that leave the Jets offense in their ability to consistently create yardage?
In fact, if you look at what Fitzpatrick was seeing on each of the throws, there's basically no difference. Brandon Marshall isn't open, but Fitzpatrick throws to the same spot each time, trusting that Marshall would create the separation. He did on the first one, but lost on the second one.
The sad thing is that this probably works most of the time in practice against Darrelle Revis. Unfortunately, it has a lower percentage chance against a much better cornerback - a totally alien concept as recently as a year ago.
It seems like forever ago that Fitzpatrick was lighting up the Bills for 370 yards and almost 40 points. Since then, the Bills have won two straight against probable playoff teams the Jets are floundering. Thinking back to that game, perhaps I can at least take some comfort that the Jets and Fitzpatrick are capable of figuring things out. It reminds me that it's not so bad. It's not so bad.
Matt Forte and Bilal Powell
The Jets' running game was a major disappointment in this game, even though they were facing an excellent front seven. Much of this had to do with the blocking, which we'll discuss below, but Forté was completely ineffective as runs seemed to be slow-developing and he lacked the burst he had displayed earlier in the season. It reminded me of watching Thomas Jones towards the end of every season. The Jets seemed to overuse Forté in the first couple of games and it might be catching up with the 30-year old already.
Powell had a productive day, generating 80 yards on 10 touches. Fitzpatrick picked up a couple of first downs by checking down to him underneath, something he didn't do enough of last week. Powell was lucky that his juggled catch didn't lead to a turnover, though.
Forté contributed a couple of catches in the passing game, including one for a first down, but if Powell is bringing those things to the table already then it makes the Jets a little one-dimensional. He also seemed to blow a blitz pick-up, although that might have been on the quarterback.
I'm beginning to wonder if the Jets are suffering from the lack of a power back on the current roster. Perhaps the plan was for Khiry Robinson to bring that to the table before he got hurt again.
It wouldn't surprise me to see the Jets add someone like Karlos Williams during the week to address this. While that would make sense, it would be disappointing to see the team concede that they played the first month with a less than ideal situation and waited this long to rectify it.
The Jets experimented with back-up tight end Braedon Bowman in the fullback role this week. It wasn't something he looked entirely comfortable with, but he handled most of the assignments without making any obvious mistakes.
Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa and the Wide Receivers
Bent: Marshall clearly relished his match-up with Richard Sherman and had a productive day with 89 yards and a touchdown on four catches. However, two passes thrown his way were intercepted - with a third overturned by the replay booth - and he didn't seem to be on the same page with Fitzpatrick a couple of times.
With Eric Decker and Jalin Marshall out, Fitzpatrick avoided the temptation to continue to force the ball to his top target and did spread the ball around a bit. This saw mixed results.
Enunwa had another productive game with six catches for 60 yards. Having entered the season with 22 career catches, he has 23 already through four games and is just seven yards shy of being on track for a 1,000-yard season. I'm seeing new things from Enunwa every week and this week, his route running was on point with a break to the outside and a whip-out for two early catches. He also drew a penalty for another first down and continues to show improved hands.
Forced into a bigger role, Robbie Anderson was a major disappointment, dropping a few passes, including one that ended up being intercepted. Despite these struggles, Anderson definitely got some downfield separation. He could have had a 100-yard day if Fitzpatrick didn't over and underthrow him on two makeable deep balls. He made a nice low grab for a first down, but didn't come close to making anyone forget about Decker.
Fitzpatrick obviously lacks chemistry with Anderson and might develop that over time. If he does, then they could start connecting on some of these deep balls and the offense will function that much more efficiently. Of course, we were saying exactly the same things about Devin Smith last year and that never materialized. If anyone is holding out hope for Smith to return from the PUP list and lift this group, a lack of chemistry with Fitzpatrick isn't going to be any less of an issue this year with Smith either.
Charone Peake surpassed expectations in his first significant action. He caught three passes and, although none went for a first down, he showed off some good hands and a nice open-field move. His fumble recovery and touchdown showed good alertness but was really just a fluke, albeit a nice confidence booster for him. It's the kind of fluke which would have been a momentum-changer had it happened earlier in the game, but at 17 down in the fourth quarter was about as useless of a lucky bounce as you could ever get. In fact, based on the law of averages, this probably just means we're less likely to see the Jets get a useful lucky bounce any time soon.
Blocking from the tight end position was disappointing once again. Kellen Davis was called for a hold and struggled to sustain blocks all day, while Brandon Bostick got blown up on a pulling block that led to a run being stuffed in the backfield. Bowman showed an ability to get down the seam on one play, but let himself down when he dropped Fitzpatrick's pass under duress.
Brian Winters and the Offensive Line
Bent: If ever there was a moment that could be a microcosm for what characterizes this team, Winters would provide it. Down 7-3 and driving close to midfield, the Jets failed to gain any yardage on first down. Winters decided to show that the Jets were going to stand up to their opposition with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Michael Bennett. That set the Jets back 15 yards, stalling the drive and leading to a punt, after which the Seahawks drove down and scored to increase the lead to 11. Also, it knocked Winters out of the game, as he somehow managed to concuss himself with his statement-making actions.
That statement? Just wait around and we'll knock ourselves out.
The offensive line was out of sync all day long, both before and after Winters head-butted his way to the trainer's table. The running game in particular went nowhere as the Jets failed to generate any kind of surge at the point of attack and couldn't prevent the Seahawks linebackers from running free to plug what lanes there were.
With Winters out, the Jets opted to employ Brent Qvale as the right guard. That's interesting because when James Carpenter was hurt earlier in the Bills game, they used Wesley Johnson as the left guard. Qvale had started at right tackle, but was once again rotating on a series-by-series basis with Ben Ijalana.
Qvale had made a couple of good run blocks at tackle, but - for the first time - was exposed in pass protection when he got beaten badly around the outside for what should have been a sack. After moving inside he looked okay on a few running plays but his man was able to leverage his way into a running lane to stuff one run. In pass protection, Bennett bull rushed him back into the quarterback to generate pressure a couple of times.
Ijalana again was mostly solid, albeit without too many impact blocks. On one play, he doubled down on the defensive tackle, leaving the defensive end unblocked to hit Fitzpatrick. That might be on Fitzpatrick again, though. Other than that, his only real mistake was late in the game when he got beaten for a strip-sack. That ended up having a positive result because Peake recovered Fitzpatrick's fumble and ran it in for a score.
Perhaps when Breno Giacomini comes back, the Jets offense will improve because there will be more strip-sacks that Peake can run in for touchdowns.
Carpenter's performance was disappointing and left me wondering if he's still struggling with that calf injury suffered in the Bills game. He only had a couple of positive run blocks, but was called for a hold, whiffed at the point of attack on a run blown up for a loss and failed to complete his block a few other times.
Nick Mangold isn't making many mistakes at center, but he's been unable to have the kind of impact you'd usually expect from him over the past few games as the players around him keep changing. He seems to be getting stood up at the point of attack more than usual and I wonder if that's due to having to keep half an eye on each of the guys either side of him.
Surprisingly, the injury-prone Ryan Clady has been the only other mainstay with Mangold. He had a few nice run blocks, but was called for a hold and did get beaten a few times in pass protection.
I wonder if the Jets will consider bringing in Willie Colon should Winters' concussion be something that could cause him to lose time.
Calvin Pryor and the Defensive Backs
Bent: Head coach Todd Bowles is obviously frustrated with the Jets' continual coverage breakdowns. It's not even as if what he's trying to do is that complicated; the back seven simply don't seem to be on the same page in terms of their communication. It seems amazing that the communication was being praised as a strength last year, especially considering the personnel hasn't really changed.
For the second straight week, Pryor had a confounding performance. Mental mistakes, missed tackles and bad angles - all aspects of his game that he appeared to have fixed in his second season - were all prevalent.
Tanner McEvoy ran completely uncovered down the field for the easiest of touchdowns after having been passed off to Pryor manning the deep middle. Marcus Gilchrist, who was covering the slot on a few occasions when Buster Skrine or Darrelle Revis were temporarily sidelined was the player originally matched up with McAvoy and was obviously not positioned deep to set the defense as he usually would. Pryor's momentum was taking him away from McAvoy and then he lost his balance and fell over.
Pryor was also burned for a big first down, took a bad angle covering a crossing route, overpursued on a receiver screen and was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Ironically, Pryor had one of the plays of the day, ranging right across the field to blow up CJ Spiller in the backfield with a big hit on a short pass. Being constantly out of position all day is perhaps more concerning in light of this one play where he got it right. Will he make even more mistakes, gambling to try and emulate this kind of moment?
For many of the coverage breakdowns, there wasn't an obvious culprit, though.
You'll never see an easier first down than this one, as the linebackers part like the red sea and safety Rontez Miles is far too deep to be expected to account for the back.
On a similar play, Skrine blitzed, along with both inside linebackers, and Sheldon Richardson dropped into coverage with Lorenzo Mauldin. Tight end Jimmy Graham was totally unaccounted for underneath and picked up an easy first down.
Clearly the Jets don't have much faith in their players to hold up in man-to-man coverages and that's why they're mixing in a lot of zone looks. However, these communication breakdowns are gifting easy first downs and touchdowns to opposing offenses while the Jets' own offense struggles to move the chains.
Revis wasn't badly beaten this week, although there was one first down play where his man picked up a first down on another coverage mix-up involving Gilchrist. Revis made a good open field tackle on the other catch he gave up.
Skrine got hurt a couple of times and gave up a couple of plays on receiver screens. He blew up one screen nicely though and was effective as a blitzer with a sack and a couple of unblocked pressures.
Marcus Williams gave up a first down to Graham on a tough one-handed catch and was also unable to get across to prevent Christine Michael from scoring on a pass to the flat, although it may not have been his responsibility.
Aside from his possible culpability in some of the coverage screw-ups, Gilchrist was also beaten for a first down over the middle. He made a nice play on the outside in run support though.
Reserves Juston Burris and Miles both saw plenty of action with others banged up and seemed to hold up well. Antonio Allen didn't play this week. It's concerning that Pryor's dip in form has coincided with Allen's return. You may recall that the pair were benched together following reports that Pryor had missed multiple team meetings during his rookie year. Could Allen's return have impacted on Pryor's focus somehow?
Darron Lee and the Linebackers
Bent: David Harris seemed to struggle last week and I wondered if Erin Henderson being out was a factor. Henderson returned this week and Harris played better, so there might be something to that. He was exposed in coverage a few times though, including on some miscommunications as mentioned earlier. He was burned down the seam on an overthrow and Spiller beat him for a touchdown over the middle. On that touchdown, Russell Wilson was able to thread the needle as Lee took a couple of steps in the wrong direction to open up a passing lane.
You'll recall Lee discussing the fact his teammates were warning him against "taking the cheese" in training camp. That's something he needs to be reminded of because he bit on a play fake to give up a big first down and, on the above play, he is baited into opening up the angle for the throw by Wilson's move to the right.
Lee was called for a hold and gave up a couple of big plays in coverage against Jimmy Graham, although he was in a good position on each and it had to be a perfect pass each time. He made some positive contributions with a couple of run stuffs and a play in coverage, but his missteps in coverage and with getting picked off at the second level in the running game probably ensure Henderson should remain as the starter for now.
Henderson played a decent game against the run, blowing up a couple of runs including one where he made a tackle for a loss. Unfortunately, though, I don't know if he's much of an upgrade over Lee in coverage, if at all, even with his superior experience and comfort level.
All offseason, the Jets seemed to be setting up to play more 3-4, but they've sought to keep their best players on the field with consistent use of four man fronts since the season got underway. They even reverted to using Richardson as an outside linebacker when they did use some 3-4 packages.
Unfortunately, that doesn't reflect well on their outside linebackers. Deion Barnes and Freddie Bishop, who the staff raved about earlier this summer didn't even make the team, Mike Catapano didn't see any time for the second game in a row and Mauldin played just six snaps.
Only Jordan Jenkins saw considerable action and he made one good play to set the edge and string out a run for a loss. He almost made another play in the backfield, but missed the tackle. He again wasn't employed as an edge rusher though, blitzing just three times.
Mauldin had one quarterback hit, although it came after he was initially blocked off and Wilson extended the play.
Leonard Williams and the Defensive Line
Bent: Williams made another big splash, as the Jets defensive line got the better of their match-up with Seattle's offensive line, albeit that this didn't prevent Wilson from throwing for over 300 yards and three scores. Williams used a swim move to explode off a block for a sack, his fourth of the year. He's making more impact plays, as projected, and continues to penetrate consistently against the run, although he was blocked off the line a few times.
Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson both generated plenty of pressure in the pass rush, with Richardson doing most of his damage in the first half and Wilkerson dominant in the second half, following a quiet first half. Both made good contributions in the running game too, although each had a missed tackle and Wilkerson lost contain on an outside run.
For Wilkerson in particular it must have been frustrating for him to pressure Wilson then turn around to see the ball floating towards a completely uncovered receiver. That happened at least three times. He took things into his own hands at one point, dropping into the flat to help blow up a receiver screen.
Nose tackle Steve McLendon continues to blow up a lot of plays with penetration, although he was dominated at the point of attack a couple of times too. All four starters were officially credited with one quarterback hit and one tackle for loss.
Deon Simon continues to see his reps trending upwards. Could he challenge McLendon for a starting role by the end of the year? He stuffed one run and shed a block well to almost stuff another, only to then miss the tackle. They did handle him at the point of attack once though.
Jarvis Jenkins played just a handful of snaps. If the Jets fall out of contention, I wonder if they would give consideration to cutting him before the trading deadline so that he doesn't count as a qualifying UFA for compensatory pick purposes. As things stand, the Jets won't get any compensatory picks, but if they released Jenkins and he didn't qualify, this could potentially earn them a fourth round pick.
Will the current regime still be around to benefit from such a forward-thinking move, though?
Jeremy Ross and special teams
Bent: Special teams were a major non-factor for both teams this week. The teams combined for three field goals and neither team had a significant kick or punt return.
Having prioritized special teams this offseason with some of their roster moves and decisions in final cuts it must be depressing to lose a game where the special teams have no impact whatsoever - especially after a game where one special teams blunder at the wrong time essentially turned a manageable deficit into an unassailable one.
With Jalin Marshall out, Jeremy Ross returned … to the line-up. He didn't do much returning in the game though. He got out to the 22 on his only kick return and fair-caught all four punts, including one inside the 10, which he seemed to acknowledge was a mistake. Ross has been a productive return man in the past, so he should do fine in Marshall's absence. I wonder if he'll get any reps ahead of the rookies on offense.
Nick Folk made his only field goal and had one kick-off returned to the 22, one touchback and a couple of squib kicks.
In coverage, Bruce Carter made a good tackle on the kick-off and Marcus Williams and Juston Burris combined to blow up a punt return superbly. Josh Martin seemed to get close to blocking a punt on a couple of occasions.
Rookie Lach Edwards landed three punts inside the 20 and managed to get good air under a punt from his own goal line in the face of some pressure. His performance was statistically unremarkable though.
Four weeks in, how is Edwards doing? The official stats say that his gross average is slightly less than Ryan Quigley's was last year, but his net average is slightly better. That could just be due to superior coverage though. Then again, the superior coverage might be a result of better placement and hang time from Edwards.
An alternative measurement of punter performance is the ANPP metric, something I created to measure punter performance by taking into account expected distance based on field position. On that scale, 60% is very poor and 70% is elite. Edwards is currently just below 68% so he seems to be doing pretty well at the moment. For more on how ANPP is calculated, click here.