Important statistical nuggets on the miscasting of Le’Veon Bell, a record-breaking start for Jamison Crowder, and more from the Jets offense against Arizona.
Wide receivers and tight ends struggled immensely
Outside of another tremendous performance by Jamison Crowder (we’ll dig into his elite start to the season later on in this piece), the pass-catchers had a brutal day against Arizona.
When targeting Crowder, Joe Flacco was 8-of-10 for 116 yards (11.6 per target), one touchdown, and three additional first downs (40% conversion rate). When targeting anybody else, Flacco was 10-of-23 for 79 yards (3.4 per target) and four first downs (17.4%).
Smith did not come close to matching his promising season debut. He grabbed 3-of-11 targets for only 23 yards and one first down after pulling in 7-of-9 for 81 yards and four firsts (plus 38-yard pass interference drawn) against the Broncos.
Herndon continues to disappoint at a meteoric level. He could only manage two catches on three targets for 25 yards over 19 receiving snaps, including an absolutely terrible drop with nobody in his vicinity on a would-be gain of 10-plus yards for a first down.
Ryan Griffin out-snapped Herndon for the first time this season, playing a season-high 42 snaps to Herndon’s season-low 29. Griffin was hardly any better than Herndon, failing to attract a target over 20 receiving snaps against Arizona. He has been just as disappointing as Herndon this season, struggling mightily to separate as he has drawn only five targets over 57 receiving snaps, grabbing three for only 10 yards and zero first downs. The All-22 film has yet to be released for this week, but I do not recall a single play over the first four weeks in which Sam Darnold missed an open Griffin.
Griffin’s pass protection has also been a minor issue. He has given up three pressures over 14 snaps in protection this season, a brutal rate of 21.4%. Herndon has been better in this area with two pressures allowed over 28 snaps in protection, a 7.1% rate that is right around the 2020 position average of 6.4%.
The Jets’ wide receivers and tight ends have received slightly too much vitriol at times this season – even if they have most certainly been poor overall, they were open a bit more often than most realized from Weeks 1-4 – but in this game, the offense was truly hampered by the crummy performance of its pass-catchers, both at the catch point and in the route-running/separation department. Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims cannot get back soon enough.
Le’Veon Bell was underused, Frank Gore overused
I went into great detail on Adam Gase’s underutilization of Bell against the Cardinals in this piece, but here is the bottom line: Bell is barely getting more touches than a decrepit Frank Gore.
Against Arizona, Bell received 13 carries to Gore’s nine. The 37-year-old future Hall-of-Famer has done little to warrant those touches in his 16th NFL season, ranking 45th out of 48 qualified running backs with -0.77 rushing yards over expectation per carry, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Bell was solid against the Cardinals, picking up 60 yards on 13 carries for an average of 4.6 per attempt. Gore has not hit that mark in any of his past 16 games. He posted a mark of 3.3 against Arizona, his fourth straight game below the 4.0 mark.
In addition, Bell was barely involved in the passing game. Over 25 receiving snaps, he was targeted one time, grabbing that pass for a seven-yard gain. Across his 46 total offensive snaps, Bell lined up outside of the backfield on only three snaps, with three out wide and zero in the slot. That’s a far cry from Bell’s average of 9.6 snaps per game outside of the backfield with the Steelers from 2016-17.
George Fant has a rough time with the move to left tackle
Fant was off to an impressive start to the season at right tackle, but he was pushed over to left tackle on Sunday to replace Mekhi Becton, while Chuma Edoga took Fant’s spot on the right side.
Unfortunately, Fant did not handle the switch well. He was tagged with allowing six pressures over 43 snaps in protection, including a sack to Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, who entered the game with zero career sacks over 34 games.
Edoga was not much better, giving up four pressures, two of those being sacks. In addition to allowing the previously sack-less Gardeck to pick up his second sack of the game, Edoga gave up a sack to Kylie Fitts, another inexperienced rusher who entered the game with no career sacks over 13 games since entering the league in 2018 (that one was called back due to an unrelated penalty on Arizona).
Fant left the game for two snaps in the second half, but quickly returned to finish the contest.
We can cut Fant some slack for this game. He was settling in nicely at right tackle. Switching to the opposite side in-season is a tough ask for any player. Hopefully, he can pick up where he left off once he moves back to the right side.
The interior offensive line showed promise
The interior offensive line trio of Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern, and Greg Van Roten struggled more than expected throughout the first quarter of the season, but in Week 5, the group showed off legitimate signs of hope.