Coach's Big Decision: Blitz Fitz?

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
6:00
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets have been a blitz-heavy team under Rex Ryan, but they pulled back last season. Look for them to crank it up again in 2012. The question is, do they start in Week 1 by going after Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick?

It's a cat and mouse game when you blitz the Bills, who spread the field with receivers and often rely on five-man protections. If the blitz doesn't get to him quickly, Fitzpatrick will find an open receiver.

The Jets tried it both ways last season, and they had more success in the first meeting. They blitzed Fitzpatrick on 21 of 31 dropbacks -- according to ProFootballFocus.com -- and Fitzpatrick had a horrible day even though he wasn't sacked. He completed 15 of 31 passes, with two interceptions. The Jets won, 27-11.

In the second meeting, the Jets dialed back the blitz, sending pressure on only 12 of 46 dropbacks, per PFF. Fitzpatrick, without injured RB Fred Jackson, played much better. He passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, and probably would've pulled out a victory if it weren't for a couple of drops in the final minute. The Jets won, 28-24.

Our conclusion: The Jets should go after Fitzpatrick. It might be a job for new S LaRon Landry, who showed terrific blitzing ability in the preseason.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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