Each week, I’ll be checking up on where the New York Jets currently stand in a variety of different statistical categories.
Let’s dive into the Jets’ current rankings following the first week of the NFL season.
*- keep in mind that in this post, higher rankings are always better, even for stats in which less = more.
Passing yards: 155 (31st)
Passing touchdowns: 1 (T-18th)
Interceptions thrown: 0 (one of 17 teams without any)
Passing first downs: 12 (T-17th)
Yards per pass attempt: 4.3 (32nd)
Yards per completion: 6.3 (32nd)
Sack rate allowed: 8.9% (23rd)
Net yards per pass play: 3.4 (32nd)
Touchdown rate: 2.4% (28th)
Interception rate: 0.0% (one of 17 teams at zero)
Passing first down rate: 28.9% (25th)
Team passer rating: 84.9 (22nd)
20+ yard plays: 0 (one of four teams without any)
Passing offense DVOA* rank: 23rd
*- DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) is a method of evaluating teams, units, or players in a comparative fashion. It takes the result of every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to the league-average expectation based on situational factors. In this case, DVOA gives us a single number that provides a strong estimate of a unit’s value.
Notes: It was an extremely rough day for the Jets passing attack. Sam Darnold completed 28 of 41 passes for only 175 yards, giving him an average of 4.3 yards per attempt that ranked last in the league among qualified quarterbacks.
The struggles of the offensive line hampered Darnold, as the pressure created by the Bills defense crushed his effectiveness. Darnold was sacked four times, a rate of 8.9%, which was the ninth-highest among qualified quarterbacks in Week 1.
It turns out that Darnold was dealing with mononucleosis during the game, and he will now be missing multiple weeks due to the illness. The Jets will be turning to Trevor Siemian against the Browns this week and for the foreseeable future. Siemian started 24 games with the Broncos from 2016-17, and posted a 13-11 record. Hopefully for the Jets, a healthy Siemian will perform better than the sub-100% version of Darnold that took the field against the Bills.
Better offensive line play will be crucial for this unit going forward, regardless of who is under center. The season opener against Buffalo was the first game that the starting five had played together, so some communication issues were expected. Hopefully, they will be able to improve going forward now that they’ve played a game together.
It was also a tough day for the wide receiver core. Jamison Crowder caught 14 passes, but only gained 99 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per reception. Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa combined to collect four catches for 19 yards – brutal production.
Anderson was missed deep by Darnold a few times, but it turns out that Enunwa played throughout the game with a neck injury that he suffered early on. It was announced later in the week that Enunwa will miss the rest of the 2019 season. To replace him, the Jets traded a sixth-round pick to the rival Patriots for veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas. He is far and away the most accomplished pass-catcher on the roster, but at 31 years old, does he have anything left? The Jets better hope he does – Thomas is going to come right in and be this team’s No. 2 outside receiver.
Rushing yards: 68 (26th)
Rushing touchdowns: 0 (one of 15 teams without any)
Rushing first downs: 3 (T-24th)
10+ yard plays: 2 (T-20th)
Yards per rush attempt: 3.2 (23rd)
Rushing first down rate: 14.3% (25th)
Power success: 100% (one of 12 perfect teams)
Stuff rate: 26% (26th)
Rushing offense DVOA rank: 19th
Notes: The poor rushing numbers posted by the Jets offense may lead you to believe that big-money addition Le’Veon Bell had a rough debut, but that could not be further from the truth.
Gang Green’s new star back was phenomenal, consistently finding ways to create something out of nothing. The run blocking of the offensive line was abysmal, but Bell was able to keep the offense on track with his patience and a boatload of avoided tackles. He consistently kept the Jets out of third-and-long situations, thanks to his ability to turn runs that should have been stuffed into short gains.
If an average back had been in Bell’s place that afternoon, it seems likely the Jets would not have scored at all.
Total yards: 223 (30th)
Yards per play: 3.4 (32nd)
Points per drive: 0.64 (30th)
Third down conversion rate: 41.2% (18th)
Percentage of drives resulting in a score: 9.1% (T-30th)
Percentage of drives resulting in a turnover: 9.1% (T-18th)
Red zone touchdown rate: 100.0% (one of nine perfect teams)
Offense DVOA rank: 22nd
Notes: The Jets were somehow able to achieve a ranking of 22nd in overall offensive DVOA, mostly thanks to the fact that they did not give the ball away until the game was already over. However, make no mistake – this unit needs to get a lot better. Their rankings of 30th in points per drive and 32nd in yards per play are much more representative of the way they performed. It is all going to start with the performance of the five men up front – if they can gel and get on the same page, things should be back on track.
Passing yards: 242 (14th)
Passing touchdowns: 1 (T-4th)
Interceptions: 2 (T-3rd)
Passing first downs: 11 (T-10th)
Yards per pass attempt: 6.9 (13th)
Yards per completion: 10.6 (11th)
Sack rate: 2.6% (T-22nd)
Net yards per pass play: 6.4 (T-14th)
Touchdown rate: 2.7% (8th)
Interception rate: 5.4% (4th)
Passing first down rate: 28.9% (9th)
Team passer rating: 71.2 (7th)
20+ yard plays: 4 (T-17th)
Passing defense DVOA rank: 6th
Notes: Everyone in the entire galaxy knew the Jets had cornerback issues entering the 2019 season, and those question marks were immediately legitimized in Week 1. Starting outside cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts were brutal, combining to allow 187 yards and 10 first downs on 15 targets. Roberts also committed three penalties, an unacceptable number.
All of this happened against one of the least intimidating passing attacks on the Jets’ 2019 schedule. It is scary to think about what might happen when that duo has to face Baker Mayfield, Tom Brady, and Carson Wentz over the next three games.Gregg Williams needs to find a way to mitigate the damage this pair can cause to the team.
Nate Hairston, the former Colts cornerback whom the Jets traded for a couple weeks ago, did not appear in Week 1. However, he has been getting close to fully familiarizing himself with the defensive system in practice. The Jets would be wise to give Hairston some playing time and see if he can provide an upgrade. Only in his third NFL season, the potential is there for Hairston to break out and become a quality NFL cornerback.
On the plus side, newly-signed slot cornerback Brian Poole had a good debut, allowing only one catch for one yard.
Rushing yards: 128 (25th)
Rushing touchdowns: 1 (T-16th)
Rushing first downs: 8 (T-18th)
10+ yard plays: 4 (T-20th)
Yards per rush attempt: 5.1 (24th)
Rushing first down rate: 36.0% (29th)
Power success: 50% (T-12th)
Stuff rate: 20% (T-14th)
Rushing defense DVOA rank: 22nd
Notes: The New York run defense was off to a strong start. Through three quarters, the Jets had allowed only 28 yards on eight carries (3.5 per attempt) to Buffalo’s running backs. Then, C.J. Mosley left the game, and the run defense collapsed. On the first drive following Mosley’s exit, the Jets allowed 57 yards on four carries (14.3 per attempt) to Buffalo’s running backs. Plus, Josh Allen finished the drive by running in for a three-yard touchdown.
If Mosley is healthy, the Jets should be a high-quality run defense. However, if he is absent, the Jets may struggle quite a bit to stop the run. For the time being, they would be replacing Mosley with fifth-round rookie Blake Cashman, who struggled mightily in relief of Mosley against Buffalo. Whenever Mosley isn’t in the game, teams will surely look to mimic Buffalo’s strategy and run the ball aggressively against the Jets.
Total yards: 370 (17th)
Yards per play: 5.9 (15th)
Points per drive: 1.42 (9th)
Third down conversion rate: 50.0% (T-19th)
Percentage of drives resulting in a score: 25.0% (10th)
Percentage of drives resulting in a turnover: 33.3% (2nd)
Red zone touchdown rate: 100.0% (one of nine teams allowing 100% thus far)
Defense DVOA rank: 12th
Notes: The weakness at cornerback limits the upside of the Jets defense, but they still can be among the best units in the league. Despite the cornerback issues, the Jets defense still had a great debut. They scored eight points of their own, notching a pick-six and a safety. In total, they forced four turnovers (five with the safety included) and had another takeaway wiped out by a Darryl Roberts penalty. Though it was against a mediocre offense, the Jets defense opened the season allowing 17 points and scoring eight – that is usually more than enough for a team to win.
Quality situational football will be necessary for the Jets defense to thrive this year. They need to force a lot of turnovers and win in the red zone. They have the star players to make those things happen, with guys like Mosley, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, and the emerging Quinnen Williams. In addition, Jordan Jenkins, Marcus Maye, Henry Anderson, and Brian Poole all showed a nose for the big play in Week 1.
This will not be the best defense in the NFL, but it has the potential to be close if they can save their best football for the most important situations. This would mean converting on a high rate of takeaway opportunities and playing great football in the red zone. Both skills are highly luck-dependent, but they are keys to performing well on defense nonetheless.
At the same time, the Jets defense could be sabotaged by poor cornerback play and a mediocre pass rush. When your defense has a weak pair of outside corners and an outside pass rush that does not rattle the opposing quarterback, teams are going to move the ball with ease against you. If you cannot make up for those issues by excelling in clutch situations, you are going to give up a lot of points.
This unit could fall anywhere on the map.
Punt DVOA rank: T-13th
Kickoff DVOA rank: T-6th
Punt return DVOA rank: T-11th
Kickoff return DVOA rank: 5th
Field goal/extra point DVOA rank: 31st
Special teams DVOA rank: 28th
Notes: An entire offseason of kicker drama fell on the Jets all at once in their opening game. Kaare Vedvik, recently picked up after being cut by the Vikings, missed an extra point and a field goal attempt. He was cut, and Sam Ficken won a tryout to become the fourth kicker employed by the Jets since the end of the 2018 season.
Outside of the placekicking issues, the Jets’ special teams unit was solid in its opening game. The return units barely got any opportunities (one punt return, no kick returns), nor did the kickoff unit (no returns against), but the punt team was very good. Lachlan Edwards was excellent, pinning the Bills inside of the 20 on six of his seven punts. He had one of his kicks downed by Trenton Cannon at Buffalo’s two-yard line, setting up a safety on the next play.