Sunday’s thrilling overtime victory over the rival New England Patriots boosted the Jets to 10-5 on the year and gave them control over their playoff destiny. After the Patriots won the coin toss and (bizarrely) elected to kick off, Fitzpatrick lead the Jets on a 5 play, 80 yard drive that was capped off by a 6 yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to ice the game. Here is a look inside that play, which you can find video of here:
The Jets are in their 10 personnel, lining up with Ivory in the backfield, Marshall split to the left, and Thompkins, Decker, and Enunwa to the right. One thing that Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey loves to do, especially in the red zone, is use change of strength motion. This puts pressure on defenses because it often forces them to bury any coverage disguises.
In this case, Enunwa is sent across the formation, changing from a 3×1 (trio) look to a balanced (doubles) formation. A Patriots defender follows Enunwa across the formation, which is a strong indicator for Fitzpatrick that the Patriots are playing man coverage.
Now, on to the play itself: This play is a mirror play, meaning that the receivers on opposite sides are running the same route. In this case, both outside receivers are running slants, while both slot receivers are running fades:
Fitzpatrick has the responsibility of making a presnap read to determine which side of the play he wants to read. In this case, he (correctly) chooses the Thompkins/Decker side, as the Patriots have shifted a safety over the top of Brandon Marshall, as many teams do in the red zone.
Fitzpatrick’s next read is the cornerback head up on the outside receiver to the primary side. If he drops into the end zone, there will be a window to throw the slant to Thompkins:
However, if that corner drives on the slant by Thompkins, as he did on this play, Fitzpatrick knows that the Patriots are playing man to man on that side. This means that he has the entire back corner of the end zone to throw the ball and let Decker make a play.
Fitzpatrick does a great job on this throw. He puts it in a good spot, and gives it enough loft to allow Decker to create separation from his defender and then go make a play on the football. It is clear that he has his defender beat to the outside here…
…and he is able to reel in the ball for the game winning touchdown:
This was one of the key plays in the Jets’ victory. The TD came from a combination of a good play call by Chan Gailey, good presnap reads and progression by Fitzpatrick, and a good route and better effort to get open and make a catch by Decker. Team efforts like this have been key to the Jets 5 game winning streak, and are vital if they hope for it to continue.