These are the concerning numbers for the New York Jets that emerged from Monday night’s beatdown at the hands of the Cleveland Browns.
10 – Receiving yards by Jets tight ends through two games
With Chris Herndon serving a four-game suspension, the Jets are relying on a hodgepodge group of tight ends to replace him. Ryan Griffin has been the starter, while veteran Daniel Brown and rookie Trevon Wesco are behind him on the depth chart.
Unfortunately, the early results have not been good. That goes for both the receiving and blocking phases.
In the receiving game, the Jets have gotten almost nothing out of their tight ends. Through two games, the Jets tight end group has combined for three catches on five targets for 10 yards, with all of that production accumulated by Ryan Griffin. Neither Brown nor Wesco has registered a single catch.
Against the Browns, no Jets tight end was able to notch a reception.
This lackluster level of receiving production is a far cry from what Herndon brought to the table last season. The Jets tight ends have gained a total of 10 yards thus far. In 2018, Herndon had 21 catches of 10-plus yards from Weeks 6-17, which was tied for sixth among tight ends over that span. He gained a total of 455 receiving yards over that stretch, which ranked eighth among tight ends.
There has been a major drop-off in the blocking phase as well. Ryan Griffin ranks 61st out of 65 qualified tight ends in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking grade. He’s been credited with allowing three pressures, while he has been in on a few sacks allowed as well.
Herndon blocked well last season, ranking in the top half of blocking grades.
No matter the role, it’s obvious that the Jets have sorely missed Chris Herndon so far this season. His Week 6 return against the Cowboys cannot come soon enough.
45.6 – Percentage of the Jets’ total offense accumulated by Le’Veon Bell
The Jets have gotten their money’s worth out of Le’Veon Bell for two games, as he has quite literally been carrying their offense. Bell has accumulated 221 yards from scrimmage thus far, which makes up 45.6% of the Jets’ 31st-ranked total of 485 yards. Leaguewide, that currently ranks as the highest portion of a team’s scrimmage yards accumulated by one player.
Without adequate blocking in front of him, Bell has to create just about all of his production individually. Somehow, he has been able to get it done. Bell’s total of 20 missed tackles forced thus far is the largest total in the league. His nine misses forced against Buffalo led the league that week, while his 11 misses forced against Cleveland led the league in Week 2.
Bell’s raw efficiency numbers have not been very good so far. He has averaged 3.4 yards per carry and 5.8 yards per reception, both numbers below average.
However, given the blocking in front of him, it’s actually remarkable he has been able to accomplish anything at all. 117 of his 128 rushing yards this season have come after contact, an astonishing rate of 91.4%. Think about that — only about nine percent of Bell’s yardage has been given to him through blocking or play design. He has had to create more than nine out of every 10 yards by himself.
It is not implausible to suggest that without Bell, the Jets may not have scored any points offensively over their first two games. Bell’s ability to make something out of nothing has kept the offense moving at times where the offensive line has been unable to generate any sort of push. If a replacement level running back were in Bell’s place, it’s hard to imagine how the Jets would have moved the football enough to score even a single field goal against Buffalo or Cleveland, given the circumstances the Jets have dealt with so far.
Bell is playing elite football. He has arguably been the best running back in the NFL through two weeks. The Jets had better hope they can get things on track and maximize his dominance before he isn’t capable of it anymore.
8.7 – Percentage of Jets drives that have ended in a score this season
Injuries have ravaged the Jets, and in turn, head coach Adam Gase’s offense has been brutally inept.
The Jets have had only two scoring drives this season, picking up one touchdown against Buffalo (a Darnold-to-Bell pass) and a Sam Ficken field goal against the Browns. With the mere two scores across 23 offensive drives, the Jets have registered a scoring percentage of just 8.7%, tied with the tanking Miami Dolphins for the league’s worst mark. That. . . is not a team you want to be sharing company with right now.
Across the board, there are a wide variety of numbers that showcase just how bad the Jets offense has been so far. They have averaged only 0.43 points per drive, again tying them with the Dolphins for the league’s worst mark.
In terms of moving the football, the Jets still have been awful. They have averaged only 21.0 yards per drive, better than only Miami and the Green Bay Packers. The Jets have made only two trips to the red zone, tied with the Chicago Bears for the fewest in the league.
Obviously, Gase deserves some slack for these numbers. He has had to deal with hampering circumstances that are out of his control. One of his starting wide receivers was injured in the first quarter of the season and played that entire game with an injured neck.
Gase’s starting quarterback was clearly playing at less than 100% in the opening game. Then, his backup quarterback was injured less than halfway through the second game, leaving him with a third-string quarterback who was on the practice squad to start the season.
As previously discussed, the Jets are without their starting tight end for the first four games.
Not to mention, the poor blocking of the offensive line has been extremely hard to work around.
Gase was hired because of his gifted ability as a play-caller, but there isn’t much that any coach can do when struck with injuries at the level the Jets have faced thus far. The hope for Jets fans was that Gase’s genius was sabotaged by lackluster talent in Miami and that his abilities would shine with better quarterbacking and overall talent in New York. He hasn’t gotten those advantages so far, so that proposition can’t be truly put to the test just yet.
Once reinforcements arrive, then we can start to fairly evaluate Gase’s abilities as a play-caller.