I left off the first Ryan Fitzpatrick Chalkboard on a positive note. However, the New York Giants game didn't end at all positive for the Harvard grad. Later in the game, first play out of Giants punt, Fitz made a very poor pass in his own side of the field.
The play is a level concept with two guys on the right running a deep in and a middle stop pattern. The first guy is hoping to find a hole in the zone (stop route) and the second is trying beat a one on one situation. The WR on the left was paid no attention. Fitz has a wide open option on this play and one that is pretty well covered. Let's see how he does.
The Giants are in a cover 3 with 4 guys underneath and 3 behind them. The inside route gets open in between the defenders covering the short zone. Fitz wastes no time and goes to deliver the ball. I've shown where the pass should have gone in this picture and the short zones (black) and the deep zones (green). The short man is wide open.
It should be a pretty routine pitch and catch, but something goes awry. Fitz airmails the short route by a good foot or two, and the pass ends up well behind the deeper man running the in route. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie does a great job of undercutting the route to pick it off, even though the WR had little chance at the ball. You can see the ball, the routes and the CB play below.
This is a case where I'm not sure if Fitz made the right read and threw a terrible pass, or made a terrible read and a terrible pass. Either way, it shows you that he does make some bad throws time to time and may cost you a game with some poor play.
Here's more stuff that makes you realize Fitz is a journeyman QB. 2nd quarter Houston Texans vs Buffalo Bills. It's been a game where neither team has done squat on offense. This play Fitz makes a good read, but the only way I can describe this throw is if Chad Pennington threw a deep ball doing a Brett Favre imitation. Fitz threw it long, but threw it up for grabs.
The Texans run a two deep route here with what looks like a post-post pattern over the middle or perhaps a post on the top and a slightly less deep out route. Fitz scrambles to his right to avoid the rush.
The key for this play is the deep safety who's in cover one (blue). The safety lets the deep route go by him to play the shorter route as you can see below. That left the top WR with one on one as Fitz continues to move around. The line represents the direction in which he was heading before he pulled up to throw.
There's not a ton of separation between the deep man and the CB behind him, but there is a slight window now that the safety made his move to the shorter route. Fitz is also feeling the heat, so he had to do something. Below is the screenshot of him about to throw.
The throw was a complete floater (not 100 percent dead duck) and leads me to believe that Fitz doesn't have ton of arm strength. The throw itself was put in a position where it became a jump ball, and the defensive guy won the battle. It was not a good pass. The result of the play would be equivalent to a short punt. Except this play was on first down.
One thing I do like about Fitz is he bounces back: here's a nice play from the same game in the same quarter. It's a deep route on both sides of the field on second and one with time running down in the half. The slot guy gets stoned by the CB, so not sure what route he was running, otherwise it's fly routes. The key is the man playing deep safety (red).
The route on the top is a simple fly route and it's one on one with a CB. The safety is completely out of position and would have to make a really great play to help out the CB if he gets beaten. The safety reads Fitzpatrick's eyes and hits the afterburners but it's going to take a lot for him to make a play on the ball.
Don't underestimate how well read this play was. Fitz never looked at anyone else, and knew exactly which WR would get open. Fitz waits on the moment until the WR gets open and it becomes a formality of a good pass.
Not pictured is said pass. It was a better-than-ok-less-than-good pass that landed on the back shoulder of the WR slightly breaking his momentum. It wasn't a perfect lead pass, but I think Fitz was playing it safe, avoiding the chance of the safety making a heroic pick on a pass that was slightly more upfield. Overall, not awful, but not a highlight reel pass. It did, however, get the job done.
FItz was held scoreless for the next 5 quarters, but managed 2 INT's in that time. One came off a tip ball that went 30 feet in the air and the second happened when his WR forgot what route to run and Fitz threw to a spot. Two weeks later, Fitz only had one TD against the Indianapolis Colts. The pass was pretty good but Andre Johnson made one heck of a catch on it and did all the work shielding the defender on it. I won't be covering those games, but wanted to let you know that I did watch the highlights to see if anything noteworthy happened, and judged those not to be anything that requires an explanation beyond this paragraph.
We'll try to wrap up Fitz's 2014 year in the next edition. See you then.