Almost any inexperienced quarterback is eventually going to have a day where he gets his rear end kicked. Bryce Petty had one of those Saturday against the Dolphins. Three turnover games aren't necessarily uncommon for such inexperienced passers, but they aren't good. Let's take a look at what went wrong on these three plays.
Around 10 minutes into the game, the Jets were up 7-0 and in business with a third and four on the Miami 14. A Cameron Wake sack forced a fumble. Wake got to Petty untouched. The natural thing to do at the time and now is to blame the offensive line. I'm not so sure the line was at fault here, however, after examining the play.
The Jets are working out of a shotgun set with four wide receivers. Petty sends Bilal Powell in motion.
Petty doing this is a very big deal because the Jets only have the five offensive linemen in to block. With Powell gone, nobody is left to stay in and help out.
This causes trouble because the protection seems to be set to account for six men rushing the passer.
The protection seems to be based on the idea Miami will blitz six men. With only five offensive linemen, the Jets can only account for five.
The blocking scheme has all five linemen taking the gap to their left at the snap. This means Wake will be unblocked. If Miami is indeed blitzing six men, the protection is set correctly in the sense that you want to block from inside out. Another consideration is to block the most dangerous rusher, and one could argue that would be Wake here. The Jets also could have helped the situation by leaving Powell in to help out and reset the protection.
A six man rush turns out to not be what the Dolphins do at all, though. The two linebackers faking blitz in the A gaps drop into coverage, and Miami simply comes with a conventional four man rush.
But, remember, the Jets are set up to block a six man blitz so tackle Brandon Shell is moving to his left. The protection has been set up to leave Wake unblocked. So the Jets end up with Wake unblocked on a four man rush. That's quite different from Wake unblocked on a six man rush, which is also less than ideal.
Here's the other thing. No matter what, Wake is coming unblocked by design. That means he's the quarterback's man. Petty has to either get the ball out quickly or feel that he's coming and evade him.
He does neither and compounds the problem by not protecting the ball.
When you watch a play like this, the natural reaction is to say, "How can the offensive line not block Cameron Wake?" Well, maybe the protection was set up incorrectly, and it was by design.
When it comes to mistakes by inexperienced quarterbacks, it can be difficult to judge how much is due simply to inexperience. This one is a total mess on so many levels, though. Even if the Dolphins are blitzing six, this is a less than ideal setup, and Petty still mishandled the play even proceeding as though they were blitzing six.
The other two turnovers are simpler to break down.
The first interception I think can be explained simply by inexperience.
He's looking for Brandon Marshall, but doesn't see Wake drop into a zone coverage.
I can't say, "No big deal," here because Petty gave up an easy interception. I can at least understand this one, though. You don't see a ton of defensive ends dropping into coverage on zone blitzes at Baylor. The Dolphins threw a concept at him he hadn't seen much in game action, and he got fooled.
The second interception actually begins with a pretty good presnap read by Petty.
The Jets have a run play called, but Petty has the option to make a kill call, which kills the run play called and run a pass. With only six run blockers, the Jets don't really have numbers (orange). Petty knows he has Robby Anderson one on one outside (red) with only a single high safety in the middle of the field who is probably not going to be able to cover enough ground to help (yellow).
The play is not successful, however.
This is a poorly thrown ball. It is underthrown. The more I watch, the more I do put some of the blame on Anderson. I don't think he tracks this very well. There's a point where he looks like he has a step, but I'm starting to feel like this is an illusion. It happens after the ball is already in the air. It could just be him going as fast as he can and overrunning the ball. Either way, this ball can't be underthrown.
What does all of this mean? I'd be working in an NFL front office if I could tell you whether this can be explained away by inexperience or not.
What I do think is this is troubling. You don't want to see a young quarterback have three such destructive plays for three different reasons in such a short span. It's one thing if there was a common thread on all of these plays. Then you'd have something clear to work on. What it looks like here is Petty's game still has a lot of work to do in a number of different areas.
I know the counter to this is it is only one game. That is fair enough. Even if you look at Petty's entire season, the sample size isn't huge. With that said, Petty is throwing interceptions at a higher rate than Ryan Fitzpatrick and has more than two turnovers for every touchdown produced. There is a lot to fix at this early stage.