Sam Darnold
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Who are the top-20 players that have played the biggest part in pushing the New York Jets to their 0-8 first half?

20. Neville Hewitt

Hewitt’s numbers are not that bad – 7.1 yards per target allowed and a missed tackle rate of only 6.0%, two solid rates – but I think he has been worse than those metrics suggest. Hewitt constantly bites hard on play fakes to leave throwing lanes, and in zone coverage, he is a “spot-dropper,” simply running to his assigned spot without adjusting his positioning based on the receiving threats in his area.

19. Connor McGovern

Physically, there does not seem to be anything wrong with McGovern despite a few nagging injuries. He has been about an average presence in the run game, as advertised. In protection, he typically does a solid job handling his one-on-ones, anchoring down, and packing a punch when helping out.

The strange part of McGovern’s first eight games as a Jet has been his issues in the mental part of the game. He simply has not been able to pick up stunts and recognize blitzes nearly as effectively as he did for the Broncos last year. In addition, when left without work, McGovern has often made the wrong decision when providing help. He sometimes helps out on one side when his help is needed more on the other, and has also had moments where he vacated his area too early, leaving to provide help when he should have stayed home to pick up a blitz or stunt.

McGovern’s struggles in the mental area are the main reason he has allowed 20 pressures this season, second-most among centers. His pressure rate of 6.7% is second-worst. With McGovern’s contract all but guaranteeing he will be back in 2021, the Jets need him to turn it around in the second half and prove he can be counted upon as at least an average starter. Ideally, he can soar beyond that and reclaim his status as a top-10 center.

18. Jordan Jenkins

Jenkins owns a pressure rate of 8.4% that ranks 58th out of 81 qualified edge rushers (29th percentile). His edge-setting has been awful, as he has allowed quite a few big plays to the outside through poor reads and decisions.

17. Lamar Jackson

The undrafted rookie has only appeared in three games, but he had rough time in coverage over his short stint. Jackson has allowed 13-of-15 passing in his direction for 213 yards (14.2 per target) and two touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins ate him alive in Week 5.

16. Josh Malone

Malone played 80 offensive snaps from Weeks 2-3 and hardly did anything. Over 49 routes run, Malone caught 4-of-6 passes for 16 yards and one first down. His average of 0.36 yards per route run ranks 154th out of 157 wide receivers with at least five targets this season.

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15. Henry Anderson

While Anderson owns a pressure rate of 7.9% that ranks 36th out of 87 qualified interior defensive linemen (59th percentile), that number tells the wrong story for a couple of reasons.

Number one, Anderson got three of his nine pressures this season against the Bills in Week 1, and on each of those, he appeared to screw up his contain assignment and allow Josh Allen to scramble for big yardage.

Number two, the majority of his pressures have taken a long time to develop and have barely made any impact. Anderson has zero sacks and only one hit. He ranks 65th out of 87 at the position with a sack or hit on just 0.9% of his rushes.

14. Chuma Edoga

Edoga has yielded nine pressures over 100 protection snaps for a rate of 9.0% that ranks 66th out of 71 tackles with at least 100 protection snaps. It doesn’t seem that he has taken much of a leap over a rookie year that had some decent flashes and featured moderate progress but ultimately left him heading into 2020 with a low floor, which he has not risen much further above.

13. Chris Hogan

Over his five appearances, Hogan caught 14-of-26 passes for only 118 yards and six first downs, brutal averages of 4.5 yards per target and a 23.1% first down rate. He posted zero yards in two games despite playing 51 offensive snaps in each. Outside of his 75 yards and five first downs against the 49ers in Week 2, Hogan has averaged 10.8 yards with a grand total of one first down in his other four games.

Hogan’s average of 0.69 yards per route run ranks dead last out of 94 wide receivers with at least 20 targets.

12. Jeff Smith

Since a great game against Denver in his season debut (7 catches for 81 yards and 4 firsts), Smith has been abysmal.

Smith has caught only seven of his 25 targets (28.0%) over the past four games, collecting 60 yards for an average of 2.4 per target. He has the same number of drops as first downs (3) over the span, and was also the intended target on two interceptions. The converted quarterback has looked extremely raw, struggling to track deep balls, looking unpolished as a route-runner against physical coverage, and failing to win in contested-catch situations.

11. Ryan Griffin

Griffin underwent ankle surgery following an injury sustained in Week 14 last season. In August, he said, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel like I did before the injury. It’s just one of those things I’ll have to deal with.”

It looks like he was telling the truth. After breaking out in the second half of last season, posting 295 yards and five touchdowns from Weeks 6-13 (pace for 590 yards and 10 touchdowns over 16 games), Griffin has been non-existent in 2020.

Over 84 routes run, Griffin has only five catches on seven targets for 27 yards and one first down. His average of 0.32 yards per route run ranks last among 72 tight ends with at least five targets and places 229th out of 230 qualified tight ends and wide receivers (ahead of only John Ross‘ 0.29). Griffin clearly looks athletically depleted, rarely creating any separation whatsoever on even the simplest underneath routes.

Time for the “top” 10!

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