Tyler Kroft is one of the best pass blocking RBs/TEs on the NY Jets.
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Pass blocking is an overlooked aspect of the RB and TE positions. Here is how the NY Jets’ RBs and TEs fare in the facet.

In the 2020 NFL season, running backs pass-blocked on 10.5% of their offensive snaps. Tight ends pass-blocked on 8.3% of their offensive snaps. Altogether, running backs and tight ends combined for 7,336 pass-blocking snaps.

That’s a fairly large chunk of football that does not get talked about much in the NFL community.

Pass blocking is an important aspect of playing RB or TE at any level of football. Lacking the ability to protect the quarterback can make a RB or TE a major liability in passing situations.

Teams can hide a RB or TE’s lack of protection talent by having him pass-block extremely infrequently, but that makes him highly predictable, creating a pre-snap advantage for the defense. If a certain RB or TE almost never stays in to block because he is so bad at it, the opponent will notice that on tape, and on gameday, they will know he is going to leave the backfield almost every time he is on the field in a passing situation. This is valuable information for the opponent.

Using a bad blocker in pass protection at a normal rate can allow teams to avoid becoming predictable, but then they have the obvious problem of, well, relying on a bad blocker to protect the QB – typically against an athletic blitzer bearing down at full speed.

This dilemma sums up why it is so important to have RBs and TEs who can pass-block effectively. In addition to the obvious advantage of helping to keep the QB safe.

Do the New York Jets have RBs and TEs they can rely on in pass protection? Let’s sort their key players at these two positions into tiers based on their pass-blocking ability.

Bad pass blockers

RB Ty Johnson

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 20.0% (2020 NFL RB average: 10.4%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 32.2 (2020 NFL RB average: 53.1)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 10.3% of snaps (2020 NFL RB average: 10.5%)

Out of all 11 players we will break down today, Ty Johnson owns by far the worst allowed pressure rate and PFF pass-block grade relative to his position’s 2020 league average. He has given up 10 pressures over just 50 snaps in protection (20.0% rate).

Although Johnson’s career pass-block frequency (10.3% of snaps) is close to typical for a running back, the Jets brought that number down in 2020 after witnessing the tape of him struggling as a pass protector over a fairly large sample of reps for Detroit in 2019. Johnson pass-blocked on only 7.1% of his snaps with the Jets in 2020.

Johnson ducks his head and lunges into this block. He is easily side-stepped by Roquan Smith and gives up a sack.

RB Josh Adams

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 11.5% (2020 NFL RB average: 10.4%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 40.7 (2020 NFL RB average: 53.1)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 7.6% of snaps (2020 NFL RB average: 10.5%)

Josh Adams has the lowest career pass-block frequency (7.6% of snaps) relative to his position’s 2020 league average of the 11 players broken down in this piece. Both the Eagles and the Jets were aware of his deficiencies in this area and accordingly did not ask him to do too much blocking.

Over 26 protection snaps, Adams has coughed up three pressures, two of which were sacks. He oversets outside here and gets beat inside by Shaun Dion Hamilton, who forces Nick Foles to scramble and then works back outside for the sack.

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TE/FB Trevon Wesco

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 11.3% (2020 NFL TE average: 6.9%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 35.3 (2020 NFL TE average: 59.7)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 14.7% of snaps (2020 NFL TE average: 8.3%)

Trevon Wesco has the highest career pass-block frequency of any tight end on the Jets’ roster (14.7% of snaps) despite struggling in the phase.

Wesco gave up five pressures over 38 snaps (13.2% rate) in 2019. In response to his poor production, the Jets minimized his protection role in 2020, giving him only 13 snaps in protection (allowing 1 pressure and posting a 50.3 pass-block grade).

As the innermost of two in-line tight ends here, Wesco is decimated by a club move from Daeshon Hall, giving up a sack.

TE Daniel Brown

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 9.7% (2020 NFL TE average: 6.9%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 52.9 (2020 NFL TE average: 59.7)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 6.6% of snaps (2020 NFL TE average: 8.3%)

Daniel Brown has not been asked to protect all that often and has been below-average in the role. Here, he gets beat around the corner by Trent Murphy, who simply flashes his inside hand to get Brown to throw his hands, quickly pulls his hand out, and runs free around the corner as Brown ducks into the block and whiffs.

TE Ryan Griffin

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 10.0% (2020 NFL TE average: 6.9%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 58.8 (2020 NFL TE average: 59.7)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 9.5% of snaps (2020 NFL TE average: 8.3%)

Ryan Griffin has allowed 14 pressures over 155 protection snaps across his two seasons with the Jets. In 2019, he led all tight ends with nine pressures allowed.

Griffin begins this rep with a false step on his outside foot, and that’s all it takes for him to lose the battle. Haason Reddick blows right by him to get a QB hit on Joe Flacco.

Good pass blockers

RB Tevin Coleman

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 6.2% (2020 NFL RB average: 10.4%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 65.1 (2020 NFL RB average: 53.1)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 12.4% of snaps (2020 NFL RB average: 10.5%)

Tevin Coleman couples his solid receiving ability with good pass blocking to make himself a prototype third-down back. He has allowed just eight pressures – including only one sack – over his last 178 protection snaps (4.5% pressure rate), dating back to Week 3 of the 2017 season.

Coleman does a nice job of navigating this stunt by the Jets’ defensive front as he picks up the looping Neville Hewitt and drives him away from the pocket.

RB Michael Carter

Stats from college career

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 5.3% (2020 NFL RB average: 10.4%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 75.2 (2020 NFL RB average: 53.1)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 14.9% of snaps (2020 NFL RB average: 10.5%)

Michael Carter did a nice job of protecting the QB at North Carolina, and he was asked to do it quite often (14.9% of snaps). In the 2019 season, Carter logged 100 protection snaps, making up 20.9% of his snaps.

Carter expertly handles this stunt by the Florida State defense. He sees the defensive tackle crashing down and the outside linebacker looping behind him toward the A-gap. Carter slides into the A-gap and meets the LB just as he arrives, getting low and laying a shot to protect the gap.

RB La’Mical Perine

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 8.8% (2020 NFL RB average: 10.4%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 60.5 (2020 NFL RB average: 53.1)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 17.0% of snaps (2020 NFL RB average: 10.5%)

La’Mical Perine was a fantastic pass blocker in college. He allowed zero pressures over 65 protection snaps during his senior season at Florida.

The Jets asked Perine to pass-block a lot in his rookie season. He stayed in to protect on 17.0% of his snaps, giving him the highest career rate of any RB or TE on the Jets’ roster.

There were ups and downs for Perine in pass protection throughout his debut campaign, but he ultimately performed better than average.

Here is a fantastic A-gap pickup against a blitzing linebacker in which Perine absorbs the rush and holds his ground.

TE Chris Herndon

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 5.3% (2020 NFL TE average: 6.9%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 73.5 (2020 NFL TE average: 59.7)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 13.0% of snaps (2020 NFL TE average: 8.3%)

Protecting the QB was the only thing that Chris Herndon consistently did well in 2020. The Jets relied on him to pass-block more than any other tight end in the league, as he led the position with 109 protection snaps (making up 16.1% of his snaps). He delivered in that role. Herndon allowed only four pressures (3.7% rate).

Herndon engages the outside linebacker here, but the OLB quickly drops into coverage. Herndon slides inside and looks for work. Right at that moment, Chuma Edoga is defeated by his defender, who has a clear lane to Flacco’s blindside. Herndon saves the day, sliding in and giving the defender a good shot to knock him off his path and send him right into the hands of Alex Lewis.

TE Tyler Kroft

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 3.9% (2020 NFL TE average: 6.9%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 67.7 (2020 NFL TE average: 59.7)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 12.5% of snaps (2020 NFL TE average: 8.3%)

Blocking is Tyler Kroft‘s bread-and-butter, and he gets it done both in the running game and in the passing game. Kroft has not allowed a sack or a QB hit since Week 3 of the 2018 season (logging 72 protection snaps since then with just two hurries allowed).

Playing H-back here, Kroft goes one-on-one with starting edge rusher Harold Landry and carries him out of the screen as he gets hands-on and uses Landry’s momentum against him.

TE Kenny Yeboah

  • Career allowed pressure rate: 2.0% (2020 NFL TE average: 6.9%)
  • Career Pro Football Focus pass-block grade: 67.9 (2020 NFL TE average: 59.7)
  • Career pass-block frequency: 10.4% of snaps (2020 NFL TE average: 8.3%)

Kenny Yeboah has some concerns as a run blocker, but his pass blocking at Ole Miss was pretty darn good. He gave up only four pressures over 197 career protection snaps (2.0% rate), including zero sacks.

Yeboah takes on the stand-up edge rusher. He puts himself in a tough spot as he initially steps to the inside, but he is able to recover as he flips his hips outside, absorbs the two-hand punch, and then works the rusher up the arc so the QB can step up.


It’s a mixed bag for the Jets in this area. Of the 11 RBs and TEs that were analyzed above, six have positive track records in pass protection while five have been turnstiles. Three of the five RBs and three of the six TEs are known as solid pass blockers.

Keep an eye out for pass blocking at the RB and TE positions as you watch the Jets throughout the next couple of months. How these players perform in this area during training camp and the preseason will play a big role in determining who makes the roster. When the regular season rolls around, it will be instrumental in determining how snaps are distributed across the depth chart.

Pass protection is not just the offensive line’s job. The skill position players need to do their part to keep the QB safe as well. Do not overlook the importance of this part of the game for RBs and TEs.

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Michael Nania is the best analytical New York Jets mind in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: [email protected] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania

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JetOrange
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JetOrange

Of course Fant is the ultimate TE pass blocker. Banging the drum

JetOrange
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JetOrange

Wesco is exceptionally disappointing. But Herndon, Kroft & Yeboah look promising for Six man protections. Keeping Zack Safe.