Key numbers from the New York Jets 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys includes a lot of Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson.
10.6 – Sam Darnold’s average yards per pass attempt
Sam Darnold showed no lingering effects from his bout with mononucleosis, single-handedly injecting hope into a previously lifeless team.
The numbers matched up with Darnold’s eye-popping performance. He threw for 338 yards on 32 pass attempts, averaging a career-best 10.6 yards per attempt (his first game above 10.0) while earning a 113.8 passer rating. He joined Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton as the only under-23 quarterbacks over the past 35 years to have a game with 10.0-plus yards per attempt and a 100.0-plus passer rating on at least 30 pass attempts.
After a bumpy start to his rookie season, Darnold has begun to string together efficient performances. Over his past six games, Darnold has posted a passer rating of 98.5. That’s better than the marks posted by fellow 2018 first-round picks Lamar Jackson (96.6), Josh Allen (80.7), Baker Mayfield (66.0), and Josh Rosen (57.0) over their last six games.
Darnold is also developing a trend of playing his best football at home. Over his career, Darnold owns a 91.4 passer rating at home, tossing 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions while averaging 7.6 yards per attempt. On the road, Darnold owns a 65.9 passer rating, throwing five touchdowns and eight interceptions while averaging 6.1 yards per attempt.
The Jets needed a jolt of energy from their franchise quarterback, and they most certainly got it. An outstanding performance by Darnold.
2 – Times Sam Darnold was knocked down
Having Darnold back helped the offensive line do a much better job in pass protection. Predictably, the communication seemed to be a lot better with Darnold in there rather than a quarterback who spent much of the offseason as the No.4 at the position.
The unblocked defenders that were running through with great frequency over the past few games were not there against Dallas. Darnold took just two sacks and otherwise was not knocked down a single time. The Jets yielded only ten pressures, a season-low.
Alex Lewis, in particular, has been doing a great job recently. Since being inserted into the starting lineup against Philadelphia (replacing the injured Kelechi Osemele), Lewis has allowed just one pressure over 77 pass-blocking snaps.
Quick passing also helped make the O-Line look good. On average, Darnold held the ball for just 2.24 seconds before throwing it, the second-quickest release time of any quarterback in Week 6.
A lot of different things made it happen, but the bottom line was that the Jets kept their quarterback clean. In turn, he performed tremendously. That will need to continue next week against New England’s otherworldly defense.
54.8 – Percentage of dropbacks in which the Jets pressured Dak Prescott
Looking at just the sack column can be extremely misleading. The Jets sacked Dak Prescott only one time, but they were beating him up the entire game.
The Jets pressured Dak Prescott 23 times on his 42 dropbacks, a 54.8 percent rate that ranked as the highest among any quarterback in Week 6. The total of eight knockdowns absorbed by Prescott tied for the most he has taken in a game this season.
Lots of Jets got in on the action. In his return to action, Jordan Jenkins led the team with five pressures, while picking up the lone sack. Leonard Williams had a bounceback game, collecting four pressures entering the game with zero over the last two weeks.
Gregg Williams deserves a lot of credit for his management of this unit. Despite a tidal wave of injuries and no field position help from the offense, the Jets defense has stayed afloat. They are currently ranked 12th in fewest points allowed per drive. They’ve done that while playing three of the top-10 ranked offenses in points per drive (Patriots, Eagles, Cowboys).
Their sack number does not look great right now (the Jets are ranked 30th in sack rate at 3.6 percent), but if the Jets defense has more games like the one they had against Dallas, they might be just fine. Sacks are tremendous, but just because a defense isn’t collecting them, it doesn’t mean their pass rush is not making an impact. Against Dallas, the Jets defense made Dak Prescott’s life difficult despite sacking him only one time. The heat they got on him was a key factor in getting the win.
125 – Receiving yards for Robby Anderson
Robby Anderson busted out with a 125-yard game, highlighted by a 92-yard touchdown bomb late in the second quarter.
Anderson has been the same Anderson, but the Jets just were not getting him the football. In Week 1, Darnold (who was battling mono at the time) and Anderson were just inches away from a pair of huge completions late in the fourth quarter. From Weeks 2-4, Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk simply did not look Anderson’s way when he was open down the field.
Finally playing with a healthy, capable starting quarterback, the results matched Anderson’s performance as a deep route runner. In addition to his deep bomb, Anderson grabbed two more first down receptions from Darnold for a total of three conversions on the day.
When he has a quarterback who can get him the ball, Anderson is a big-time threat. Injuries at quarterback have led to him suffering through dry stretches of production, making him look worse even though his performance hasn’t actually changed much.
The numbers back that up. Since 2017, in eight games started by a backup quarterback, Anderson has averaged 33.9 yards per game and 10.8 yards per reception, scoring no touchdowns. In 27 games started by the No. 1 quarterback (Josh McCown in 2017, Darnold in 2018-19), Anderson has averaged 62.1 yards per game and 16.1 yards per reception, scoring 14 touchdowns. Those numbers would put him on pace for 62 catches, 994 yards, and eight touchdowns over 16 games.
Robby is a beast. All he needs is a guy who knows how to feed him. Now that he has one in Darnold, he’s going to eat.