New York Jets Week 13 Stock Report
The New York Jets have a heartbeat.
The hunt for the playoffs is reaching its apex, and as the weather gets colder, the games get more and more important. That's why their resounding 38-20 win over the Miami Dolphins was such a crucial victory. If the Jets go on a run to the playoffs and even get past the first round, this game will be talked about as the turning point.
The Jets started strong and got out to a 35-7 fourth-quarter lead before surrendering 13 garbage-time points to help the Dolphins save a little face. As in any blowout, more than a few standout performances helped the Jets win in such convincing fashion. Even with such a dominant win, though, some players left a little room for improvement.
Here's a look at a handful of players on either end of that spectrum.
Stock Up: Ryan Fitzpatrick
For two games, the Jets got a strong dose of what happens when Ryan Fitzpatrick turns into Ryan Fitztragic. But Sunday against the Dolphins, Fitztragic turned to Fitzmagic in one of the Amish Rifle's best games of the season.
Fitzpatrick finished 22-of-37 passing (59.5 percent) for 277 yards (7.5 YPA) with a season-high four touchdowns and a season-high 118.9 passer rating. Once again, most of his production went to Brandon Marshall (nine catches, 131 yards, two touchdowns) and Eric Decker (five catches, 62 yards, one touchdown), but Fitzpatrick was able to get the ball into the hands of the Jets' best playmakers on offense.
Really, isn't that the job description of any quarterback?
The Jets are now in the thick of the playoff race, which means they'll have an interesting decision on Fitzpatrick this offseason. On one hand, if the Jets make the playoffs, it will be hard for them to move on from the 33-year-old signal-caller. On the other hand, if they miss the playoffs, they'll be putting the ball into the uncertain hands of Geno Smith of Bryce Petty.
Either way, the outcome of the Jets' playoff run is bound to have repercussions at the quarterback position.
Stock Down: Buster Skrine
Covering Jarvis Landry is a thankless job, but someone has to do it. On Sunday, Buster Skrine was the man for the job, and he surrendered a good deal of damage into his coverage.
According to Pro Football Focus, Landry caught seven of eight passes for 49 yards while working against Skrine in coverage. On the day, Skrine gave up nine receptions on 12 passes into his coverage (75 percent) for 119 yards. He has had a brutal season so far, giving up 71.2 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage (42-of-59) for 479 yards, two touchdowns and a 106.5 passer rating, with just two passes broken up.
The Jets signed Skrine to be their slot cornerback, but over the course of the season, some young defensive backs have emerged as potential fits in his spot. Marcus Williams has moved to safety because of the Jets' rash of injuries there, but he could be the slot corner that the team needs. So could Darrin Walls, if he can keep up his incredible performance from Sunday (more on him later).
Regardless, the bull's-eye will always be greater on players not named Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie in the Jets secondary. The team has to get better production from its slot cornerback.
Stock Up: Sheldon Richardson
The Jets have a talented, deep group of defensive linemen, so when Sheldon Richardson was suspended for the first four games of the season, there was no panic in the defensive line meeting room. There was also a sigh of relief when he returned, and he's been on a warpath ever since.
On Sunday against the Dolphins, Richardson tallied seven combined pressures (four hurries, two hits, one sack), the most pressures of any defensive player on the team, according to Pro Football Focus. He stormed out of the gate this season and has tallied 28 total pressures (17 hurries, six hits, five sacks). That puts him 10th among 3-4 defensive ends in Pro Football Focus' pass-rushing productivity metric.
After his multiple off-field incidents this offseason, it seemed as if Richardson would eventually find his way out of New York. With his on-field performance this season, though, the Jets would be foolish to let anything happen that might end with Richardson suiting up elsewhere.
Stock Down: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
The Jets offense had one of its best games of the season overall; the team scored a season-high 38 points and gained 411 yards, its third-highest total so far this year. Without D'Brickashaw Ferguson letting Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon into the backfield, though, the Jets might have performed even better.
Ferguson allowed eight combined pressures (four hurries, three hits, one sack) against Vernon Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. Ferguson's previous high for the season was five pressures allowed, so this was clearly his worst outing so far. That being said, this has not been one of Ferguson's best seasons. He ranks 49th out of 59 offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus' pass-blocking efficiency.
Ferguson's contract runs through 2017, so it appears the Jets are stuck with him for the time being, but they could release him this year if they don't mind incurring $5 million in dead money or $3.7 million if they designate him a post-June 1 cut, according to OverTheCap.com. Left tackles don't grow on trees, though, so the Jets better have a good backup plan if they choose to move on from Ferguson.
Stock Up: Darrin Walls
The Dolphins tried to air it out against the Jets secondary, but they ran into a Walls.
It was a smart strategy to target the Jets cornerbacks with Darrelle Revis out with a concussion, but backup cornerback Darrin Walls rose to the occasion with a huge performance. He was targeted 10 times and gave up just two receptions for 10 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Both of the receptions were for touchdowns, but it was an otherwise stellar day from the young defensive back.
Walls has played primarily on special teams this season; he had played just 13 defensive snaps all season before Sunday, but he played 51 defensive snaps against the Dolphins, per PFF.
Don't get used to seeing Walls on the field; once Revis makes his comeback, Walls is likely to go right back to the bench, but his performance should give the Jets hope that he can step up again if need be.