By Tom Di Benedetto
Apologies for the delay in this week’s edition. Having your heart ripped out on a Wednesday night in Queens is a great deterrent for the creative process. However my brilliant girlfriend sparked some fresh inspiration when she coined the perfect (and somehow unused, unless I’ve just missed it) nickname for Ryan Fitzpatrick: Pickspatrick.
Now the entire world of NFL analysis has come down on Pickspatrick (C) the past couple of weeks after back-to-back horrendous performances. He is now 10 interceptions deep this season, already two-thirds of the way to his 2015 total. He has the NFL’s worst QB rating at 57.6, trailing the rest of the field (Blaine Gabbert is 31st) by an astonishing 12 points. Funny thing is, I really don’t think he’s played that differently than he did last year. He’s been very unlucky at times (opposite of last year), and the rest of the team has been a mess. This is really the key difference this season: the rest of the team isn’t matching their 2015 form and it has pushed Fitz to play out of his comfort zone in forcing throws downfield while trailing by multiple scores.
Consider this: Pickspatrick (TM) has thrown all 10 of his INTs while the Jets have been tied or trailing. Unfortunately, 64% of his pass attempts so far this season have come with the Jets playing from behind, and the results have been disastrous. Fitz is not very good and was always a long shot to replicate his 2015 numbers. But he’s still the same guy. If the Jets can get it together, he’s capable of executing a conservative game plan to victory. And as painful as it is to face, he is still the Jets’ best hope at quarterback right now.
The Curious Case of Case Keenum
So the Rams are 3-1. In order to process this, I watched their Week 4 game against the Cardinals a couple of times this week. The defense is playing incredibly well, with Aaron Donald leading the way as one of the most dominant players in the league so far (seriously throw on the tape and watch him work). I was really watching for Case Keenum though, and he once again reminded me of none other than Pickspatrick (R) himself.
Despite Keenum’s inconsistent accuracy and average arm talent, he has an almost gunslinger mentality at times and has demonstrated a comfort taking risks downfield. This hasn’t truly bit him yet this season, and has led to a couple of critical big plays, but he has certainly toed the line. He has also been a surprisingly willing and effective scrambler and puts impressive effort into keeping the play alive in the pocket. Just like Fitz, however, his success or failure going forward will really depend on the team keeping up it’s hot start. He has shown that he is able to lead a conservative game plan, but I definitely have my concerns over how effective he can be playing from behind and maintaining his (only barely average) early-season level as the going gets tougher.
Week 4 Game Balls
Just a quick note here, I thought Derek Carr had one of the best drives of his career on Sunday in leading Oakland to victory in the final four minutes at Baltimore. It was exactly the kind of moment Raiders fans have been looking for and a legitimate step in a potential 2016 breakout for Carr. Oakland is now 3-1 and Carr has an excellent opportunity to stay hot at home against Chargers in Week 5.
1. Matt Ryan
2. Derek Carr
3. Philip Rivers
4. Ben Roethlisberger
5. Russell Wilson
6. Carson Wentz
7. Drew Brees
Knocking on Seven’s Door: Sam Bradford, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott