The Jets were having a decent drive getting down to the Eagles 30 for only the second time. At this point in the game it's midway through the 3rd, and the Jets needed points. A field goal wouldn't have been awful, bringing them within 2 scores of winning the game.
Instead of being conservative, Chan went to a 5 WR set on 3rd and 5, dialing up a passing play. The play itself isn't anything too conservative or aggressive, it's up to the QB how much risk. There's two fly routes on either side of the field. Underneath there's two out routes with the TE running across the center of the field. The set up is that you could go underneath taking a first down or take a shot downfield.
The Eagles are in cover one man, with a lurker in the middle preventing Fitz from running for a first. At the bottom it's one on one, with Smith against a CB. Smith gets position at the start, getting to the outside and beating his man. Everyone else is pretty covered.
When Smith hits the 20, the ball is out of Fitz's hands, Smith has 2 yards on the CB, but something happened. Either the ball is way under thrown, or Smith lacks true breakaway speed or moves. Here's why I say this the corner catches up to him after being beat in the first few steps and is closing below. It didn't look like the ball was a duck or Smith slowed up, more like the corner caught up to him.
Let's talk about the pass: the ball was thrown to the inside, which makes a pick easier for the defender. Counter point: After the first few yards, Smith really didn't do anything to gain separation and ends up being caught by the corner. I don't think it was all about the under throw either, I think that Smith simply ran into a defender who could hit 3rd gear faster and make an impact play. Simply put: Smith's speed was neutralized by the corner.
The ball itself wasn't good by any means, but Smith also deserves some blame for not fighting for it as well as we'd hope. Chalk it up to Fitz not producing a great throw, Smith not gaining separation and then to top it off: not fighting for the ball and that's how you end up with an interception. If I had to go percentages: the throw was like 80 percent of the reason for the turnover, but I wanted to point out that I think the fact Smith has a long way to go.
Was it a huge duck? No, it wasn't 3 yards under thrown, but I think the bigger issue was the location. If it was thrown more to the sideline perhaps that would make it more likely to be incomplete rather than picked off. Again though, I don't think this is arm strength so much as accuracy throwing the deep ball if that makes sense.
Later in the game, Marshall opens the door for Kerley to score easily. Along with a with a very solid read and pass by Fitz the TD seemed to be exactly what we are hoping for in this situation and with Kerley running solid routes through the middle.
The play is design for one thing. The idea is to find a hole in the zone and have a receiver run through it and catch a pass on the run. It's a 4 man route with three slants and Marshall running underneath. The concept is a clear out, where the defense should defend against the deeper routes and leave Marshall open underneath. Instead the exact opposite happens where the defender jumps on Marshall freeing up the deep route.
The defense is in a base cover 2. Two safeties are deep, with everyone else playing zone right about on the goalie. A four man rush is on it's way with Powell also back to help out. The key guys to watch are the safety and DB on the slot WR.
The safety here gets most of the blame. He jumps on Marshall which opens up the deeper route that Kerley is running. The corner is flying back to his zone watching for a route to the sideline (#31), while the inside guy is trying to keep step with Kerley and take away a shorter route. Problem is for the defense, Kerley is going to run behind the safety who already vacated the deep zone and the underneath man is caught in no man's land.
Once Kerley cut to the inside, it was all up to Fitz. He nailed Kerley with a relatively easy toss bringing the Jets within two scores of winning the game. Marshall here drew the safety, who was shocked to watch the ball fly over his head directly into the arms of Kerley.
Jets got the ball back with the same score and seemingly were ready to really put the pressure on the Eagles. Instead a batted ball turned into an interception. I'll break this down two ways: first showing the play and the defense as normal, and then showing what led to the defender getting his hands on the ball from the end zone view.
First off it's a flood concept on the left with Marshall running a deep in route on the right. (A flood concept is a deep route, with two underneath out routes at different levels)
The defense is in man to man with a safety helping a deep threat, which isolates Marshall against a corner. The safety is very deep which should allow Marshall some time to maneuver if he can get a step on the corner.
Problem is with Fitz he locks onto Marshall and the one on one. Check out the line and the WR running the shorter route. Notice anything> How about a huge pocket to step into, plus a WR that is open enough that a good throw will lead to at least a few yards after the catch.
Counter point: to be fair, Marshall has inside position, meaning he'll have a step and then some on the defender when he cuts. That would make the big play potential high, but also require more time to set up. Time that the Jets O line could not grant Fitz. Here's the freeze frame that sums up the big picture:
By now you know the rest, as Marshall finishes the cut, Fitz goes to throw but lo and behold Brian Winters lets the defender blow by him, which allows the defender a free run at the QB. That leads to a batted ball that's intercepted.
Now that I've jumped off the Fitz hate bandwagon, let's jump on the Winters stinks bandwagon. Here you can see Winters taking on the man. The Eagles run a stunt where the OLB ends up running a delayed blitz up the middle (55) while both 96 and 93 move to the outside gaps. Mangold Winters and Brick all end up initially hitting the man in front or at least planning to, with Powell taking on the MLB blitzing solo.
Powell picks up the middle LB perfectly, while Winters and Mangold double team 93, shifting 96 to Brick. Mangold, a very talented and aware center sees the OLB blitz coming.
Mangold picks up the OLB leaving Winters 1 on 1. Winters folds pretty badly here, never quite getting himself in good position. The defender is almost by him once Mangold moved on. D'brick is on his man, Mangold had no problem, Powell picked up the blitz and the other side of the line did their job. Everyone but Winters.
Which leads to the picture below. Fitz waiting on Marshall ends up with a defender dead in front of him. The ball was tipped and ended up picked off ending the drive and killing any momentum from the fumble recovery.
Again because I can, 70 percent of this pick is on Winters. You have to, and I mean have to be better at one on ones. As for Fitz, he takes a beating here for two reasons: one he had a man open and needs to stop locking on to his main WR and two because he could have ducked and taken the sack instead of turning it over again.
Fitz wasn't done with the turnovers either. This one I thought would be all on Marshall watching at home. However, after review was it the pass that was bad? Let's find out shall we?
Jets were still down 10 at this point, but had decent field position and a drive just starting to click. The play itself is a good choice for 2nd and ten. I don't mind an empty set in this situation considering how little clock we had, and the play is designed for an intermediate route which is our best chance. Marshall runs a circle out/corner concept with the slot WR running a slant. Two slant routes at the bottom clear out the far WR who is running across the field.
The defense is in a cover 3, even though it looks like man or possibly cover two to start. It's a base cover three rushing 6 men with 5 in coverage. That should open a zone behind the corner and in between the safety... right where Marshall will run the route. (That's a cover 3 weakness besides the short routes.)
Moving ahead Marshall is running towards the sideline leaving the underneath man in the dust and the safety is still pretty far out of the play. With the corner underneath there is a threat an under thrown ball could lead to a pick so the pass is not a slam dunk but it's one expected to be completed more than 90 percent of the time.
One problem: Fitz "overthrew" Marshall by throwing the ball high and outside. Fitzpatrick was trying to give himself some room too prevent the corner from jumping the route in this case. The pass itself wasn't perfect causing Marshall to have to reach and jump to bring down.
As much as I beat up Fitz in the last paragraph for his role let's get one thing straight: the pass should be caught. Marshall has no excuses for the alligator arms. Just not good for a normally competent guy. It's not even a case of the proverbial if it hit your hands it should be caught when a receiver makes a diving plays just to graze the ball. This is one of those dead smack in the hands drops that frustrate everyone. Look at the room he had in between defenders.
The aftermath is that Marshall unluckily tips the ball into the safety's hands. If you look above you'll see how much room they had to complete the pass. Was the ball a bit overthrown? Perhaps if you want to be unreasonable and expect perfection. Was the ball in a good enough position Marshall needs to come down with it? No doubt. I'd give Fitz 2 or 3 percent for the pass, but IMHO I'd put this one on Marshall and not on Fitz.
Well that stunk. (Not the article of course, but the game.) I've really enjoyed bringing these to you all, if there's any suggestions or comments I'd love to hear them on how technical with coverages and the like. See you next week when I recap the game in London.