The New York Jets dropped their fourth consecutive game and fell to 1-5 on the season after the Arizona Cardinals blew them out, 28-3, on Monday night.
The game itself was not only riddled with penalties and never particularly competitive, it also put on display the terrible situation the Jets find themselves in at quarterback.
First there was Ryan Fitzpatrick, who completed 16 of 31 passes for 176 yards and threw one bad interception in the end zone in the third quarter. It was certainly a better performance than some of the others we have seen from him this season (namely the six interception game against the Chiefs), but by just about all accounts it was still deeply underwhelming and gave Jets fans little to feel good about. Through the first six games, Fitzpatrick has now thrown a league-leading 11 interceptions, compared to just five touchdowns. Although he is on the books for $10 million this season, Fitzpatrick is starting to show why the Jets held off over the summer from giving him the multi-year contract he wanted.
As Pro Football Focus observed afterwards, Fitzpatrick has particularly struggled under pressure. This is true of all quarterbacks, but Fitzpatrick’s numbers are especially jarring.
“Under pressure this season, Fitzpatrick has completed only 42.6 per cent of his passes, for an average of 4.8 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 35.7. To be clear, his passer rating under pressure is worse than if he had just thrown the ball to the turf every snap, and that doesn’t even factor in the yards lost due to sacks.”
With the game all but over late in the fourth quarter on Monday night, the Jets turned to backup Geno Smith, who earlier in the game was caught on camera pacing around the sidelines, evidently frustrated that he wasn’t in the game.
Like Fitzpatrick, Smith will be a free agent at the end of the season, so it is understandable that Smith would want a shot to prove himself — if not to the Jets than at the very least to another team in the league. But his audition on Monday night did little to help convince inquiring front offices that he is the answer under center.
In his one drive, Smith managed to start off nicely with a few completions and a first down. But before long, he was sacked for a loss (and fumbled the football, though the Jets managed to recover it) and then threw an interception. After the game, head coach Todd Bowles announced that Fitzpatrick will start against the Ravens in Week 7.
Dig a little deeper down the Jets’ depth chart at quarterback and the problems only increase. The Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in the second round of this year’s draft, though they have acknowledged that he is red-shirting the season and won’t even dress for the games, much less see any time. Bryce Petty, the team’s fourth-round pick from last season, has no regular-season experience, although he did show improvement between this year’s and last year’s preseason.
In other words, the Jets have two young quarterbacks, both of whom are extremely raw and unproven, and two experienced quarterbacks, both of whom are deeply flawed and soon-to-be free agents.
It would be unfair to suggest that the team finds itself at 1-5 all because of the problems at quarterback, and the injuries to Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall certainly haven’t helped. On the other side of the ball, the team’s defence, both the secondary and the pass-rush, have also been far worse than expected.
But the quarterback problems aren’t going away anytime soon. And so long as they continue, so too will the Jets continue to be well out of AFC East contention.
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