EA Q&A: Jets Can Win with Fitz

Posted Aug 18, 2015

Tackling Challenges, Surprises, Roles & a Trip Overseas

EA: Outstanding question. Last week, Coach Bowles said it takes time to right a team and creating a culture doesn’t happen overnight. There is a learning process for both the new staff and the players. Bowles, who has handled things head-on early, is universally respected throughout the NFL and the consensus is the Jets are in good hands. Each day, he preaches accountability, chemistry and work ethic. Offensively the players have been receptive to Chan Gailey’s system, but they have a new signal caller leading the charge in Ryan Fitzpatrick. The heady Fitzpatrick, who is comfortable with Gailey, will lead his fifth practice with the first team on Tuesday. Time will be of the essence moving forward.  As far as pleasant surprises, I really like what I have seen out of new G James Carpenter. The 6’5”, 321-pounder, a huge man, has impressive footwork and can get out and pull. Corner Buster Skrine, a somewhat unheralded signing, has been fantastic. I don’t recall witnessing a camp where a corner had more PDs.

EA: I agree with Coach Bowles – there is no reason to be concerned after that first game. The Jets wanted to get a long look at some of their younger players and the only way to do that is to see them play. As far as the first-team defense is concerned, tackling and communication were continually stressed all weekend. David Harris told me that they didn’t play to their standards and I’d expect a different performance in Week 2. The first-team offense was solid against the Lions, but they’ll get an extended shot vs. the Falcons after Fitzpatrick works with the ones all week. I would also anticipate a step forward from Bryce Petty after he got his feet wet in the Motor City. And from the reserves, you want to see a bounce-back performance up front. No magic there – got to play better in the trenches.

EA: No. They really don’t feel like they can win with Fritz. Yes. They really do feel they can with Fitz. Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in exactly for a situation like this – he is an extremely smart veteran who processes quick, knows where to go with the football and has experienced success under Chan Gailey.  On paper, the Jets defense is one of the most talented units in the league. Meanwhile on offense, the Jets finished 3rd in the NFL on the ground last year, there is depth at running back and James Carpenter appears to be a real nice fit at LG. Last year, Fitz started 12 games in Houston while completing 63.1% of his passes with 17 TD and 8 INT. Those are winning numbers. He knows he doesn’t have to do it all himself and the Jets have some weapons around him – starting on the outside with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

EA: Kerley is the Jets punt returner and he is competing for the slot receiver spot. The coaching staff wanted to get a long look at Quincy Enunwa against the Lions, so the second-year WR saw time with the starters on the inside. The 6’2”, 225-pound Enunwa gives you a big body there inside and was known for his perimeter blocking prowess at Nebraska. The 5’9”, 188-pound Kerley is a gifted route runner with terrific feet and excellent hands.

EA: Nope. Moving on…

EA: The Jets have every intention of starting Ryan Fitzpatrick opening day. For rookie Bryce Petty, it’s a work in progress. Coach Bowles indicated that Petty had difficulty identifying the Mike ‘backer against the Lions. That is the most important thing for a quarterback, so the blocking can be set up front. Reading defenses on a pro level is his most significant adjustment and then in due time he’ll know where to go with the ball and also be able to manage the offense effectively. Petty has all the intangibles and these reps – in practice and in the preseason games – are critical, but the Jets aren’t going to rush him into regular season action.

EA: If you have spent a day in the locker room at any elite level, you know guys move on quickly. Questions are repeatedly asked – that doesn’t mean players are looking for a platform to discuss a topic.  Here’s the truth – Geno Smith was having a good camp, but he’ll be out for 6-10 weeks with a fractured jaw. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback and the coaches and players are confident in the veteran signal caller. Next man up.

EA: Nothing new to report. Mathis remains a street free agent and GM Mike Maccagnan told reporters two weeks ago that the Jets had talks with the veteran OL’s representation. At the time, he said he didn’t think there was anything pressing.

EA: Honestly it’s a business trip and it’s a huge game. The Jets-Dolphins contest is the first divisional matchup in the “International Series” and it will also mark the first AFCE contest under Todd Bowles. I don’t think it’s a logistical nightmare at all – the Jets have an easy travel schedule early. Consider the fact that they leave New Jersey only once before October (the quick trip to Michigan is the rear-view mirror) and they’ll have a Week 5 Bye after the London contest. The transatlantic flight over is about 6 hours and change – not bad at all. We have a great support staff and the organization will be thoroughly prepared. And I expect a pro New York crowd in London. Cheers!

EA: I think Shaq has had a solid camp. He has risen to the occasion a couple of times and come up with some impressive receptions. The Jets are deep at receiver and Evans, a fourth-round selection in 2015, will look to continue to make headway over the next couple of weeks. A 6’0”, 210-pounder, Evans is more of a possession type receiver than a burner. As with any of the players battling for a roster spot, special teams contributions will be vital.


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