Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) makes a pass while tackle Breno Giacomini (68) pushes New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley (99) out of the way during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Collapse the Pocket
Like almost every quarterback in the NFL, Fitzpatrick struggles throwing the football when under pressure in comparison to when he has all day to throw the ball, though Oakland must effectively collapse the pocket in order to have the highest level of success against Fitzpatrick. Rather than forcing him to scramble outside of the pocket, Oakland must find ways to create pressure that forces Fitzpatrick to make ill-advised decisions and inaccurate throws inside the tackle box. With the inability to get outside the pocket, Fitzpatrick will not be allowed to extend plays by booting out to either side, and in turn, his passes should come out early and poorly thrown.
When you put a turnover-happy quarterback in a uncomfortable situation bad things are going to happen.
Senior analyst at Pro Football Focus Steve Palazzolo mentioned the rate at which Fitzpatrick turns over the ball via Twitter shortly after he had fumbled the ball on the Jets’ first drive of the game against New England in Week 7.
Keeping him in the pocket should also limit his ability to run the football. Yes, I am mentioning that Fitzpatrick is a threat to make plays on the ground with his feet.
Through six games, Fitzpatrick has carried the ball 25 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. While that may not be Ivory numbers, of his 25 carries nine of them have been for first downs, the seventh-most rushing first downs for a quarterback this season.
In order for Oakland to have success collapsing the pocket, their interior defensive line must find ways to get pressure in Fitzpatrick’s face. If the Raiders’ can create pressure in front of Fitzpatrick it should force him deeper into the pocket, thus allowing Oakland’s talented edge-rushers to swallow him up as they come hard off the outside edge. When pressure isn’t created from the interior, outside rush lanes taken from the edge defenders open up holes for Fitzpatrick to step into and make better decisions with the football.
With the likely return of both Denico Autry and Justin Ellis, Oakland should have a very capable rotation of talented interior defenders that can attack the quarterback from the inside. Though defensive tackle Dan Williams has had the most success of the bunch, mixing in the two returning players and rookie Mario Edwards Jr. should keep fresh pass rushers in the game on any given down.
Jets center Nick Mangold could also kept from playing from the game, as he did not participate in practice Wednesday due to a concussion/shoulder injury. While we are still several days away from the game, Mangold’s absence would have a direct impact on Oakland’s ability to create pressure from the interior.
As for the rest of the Jets’ offensive line, tackles D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini have both received sub-50 point grades from PFF, while guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters have both received grades in he 60’s.
With the added pressure from the interior, it would be up to Oakland’s edge rushers Aldon Smith and Khalil Mack to simply keep doing what they have been doing all season. According to Pro Football Focus, both Smith and Mack in the top 20 among all NFL edge defenders.
Next: Fitzpatrick Gameplan: Shut Down the Running Game