Are Jets Still Too Predictable On Offense?
After just two weeks, it's difficult to come to any definitive conclusions on the state of the Jets offense, but it's not too early to start noticing some trends. The first obvious trend is overall inefficiency. The Jets are only averaging 3.6 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per pass attempt. This reveals a team that is neither getting the big pass play, or running it well enough to sustain drives. Their longest pass play so far is only 37 yards, while their longest run is for just 16 yards. When a team doesn't get the big play, it means they have to execute again and again on long drives where they dink and dunk for yards and must convert on long third downs. It's a low percentage way to move the ball down the field.
The biggest challenge for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg thus far has been to ease Geno Smith into the starting role while remaining efficient and getting the running game going. Through the first two games it's clear that teams are gearing up to stop the run first and daring Smith to beat them with his arm. To a certain extent, the Jets have played right into this strategy by running too much on first down.
At first glance, when you look at the Jets' play breakdown we see that they've actually thrown the ball more times than they've rushed it (74 to 61). But this number is skewed for a couple of reasons. First, the Jets have been down late in both games, which forced them to pass more in the fourth quarter. Second, several of Geno Smith's rushing attempts were actually designed pass plays. They've also gone no huddle at the end of halves, which leads to more throws.
Early on in games, the Jets are running in predictable fashion and leaving themselves with long down and distances. For example, let's look at the game against the Buccaneers. In the first two and a half quarters, the Jets rushed the ball on 1st down six times with Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. Here are the yards they gained on those plays: 1, 1, -1, -1, 7, -1. When those are the results, you have to question if it might not be a blocking issue, but an issue of the defense selling out to stop the run.
In week 2, the Jets did make an adjustment and began six of their first seven drives with pass plays. While it's nice to switch it up, you also don't want to become to predictable and overcorrect the other way. Does it sound like nitpicking? Of course it does.
Perhaps as Smith becomes more comfortable, he will be able to audible quickly when it's clear a play has a low percentage of working. It's all part of the learning curve for a rookie quarterback and an offensive coordinator trying to get the best out of him.