Jamison Crowder would provide a huge boost for the New York Jets offense
Slot specialist Braxton Berrios has filled in admirably for sidelined slot receiver Jamison Crowder over the first three games of the New York Jets‘ 2021 season. With Crowder missing one game due to COVID-19, and another two due to a groin injury, Berrios leads the Jets with 150 receiving yards (50.0 per game).
While Berrios may be playing up to the peak of his potential, he has not proven capable of offering the same level of impact that Crowder provides, and the Jets’ offense has suffered without the abilities that Crowder brings to the table.
A returning and healthy Crowder would provide an enormous boost.
Take a look at how the Jets’ offense has performed in seven games without Crowder since 2020 (with Berrios taking over his role in all of those games) versus in the 12 games that he played in 2020.
|Stat||With Crowder (12 games)||Without Crowder (7 games)||Change|
|Turnovers per game||1.0||1.9||-0.9|
Without Crowder, the Jets have seen their scoring production sliced in half while their propensity for turnovers has nearly doubled.
Crowder is a flat-out better player than Berrios. He has outperformed Berrios in just about every key category.
The following is a comparison between Berrios’ numbers in the seven games he played in Crowder’s place versus Crowder’s numbers over 12 games in 2020:
|Stat||2020 Crowder (12 games)||Berrios without Crowder (7 games)|
|Receiving TDs per game||0.50||0.29|
|Yards per target||7.9||6.7|
Many fans tend to overlook how highly Crowder ranks among the NFL’s pure slot receivers. From 2019-20, Crowder racked up 1,127 receiving yards from a slot alignment – seventh-most in the NFL over that span.
Here are some of the specific areas where a healthy Crowder would provide a boost over Berrios.
Berrios is a drop-prone player. According to Pro Football Focus, he has dropped 9.5% of catchable targets in his career. That’s a good deal above the 2020 league average for wide receivers (6.8%). He has cut that number down to 7.7% in his seven games as a starter in Crowder’s place, but that’s still not ideal.
Crowder has much better hands with a perfectly average career drop rate of 6.7%. In 2020, he showcased the stickiest hands of his career as he dropped only two passes and had a career-low drop rate of 3.3%.
This past Sunday, Berrios dropped a great pass from Zach Wilson that ricocheted into the hands of a Broncos defender for an interception.
Throwing the ball to Crowder has been a more enjoyable endeavor for Jets quarterbacks than throwing the ball to Berrios.
Crowder produced a first down or a touchdown on 36% of his targets in 2020. The NFL average for wide receivers was 41% last year, but for a slot receiver that draws a lot of check-down throws, 36% is a solid rate.
Berrios has produced a first down or a touchdown on only 29% of his targets as a starter in Crowder’s place, which is very low for any wide receiver regardless of his role.
When targeting Crowder in 2020, Jets quarterbacks had a 105.4 passer rating. Berrios’ mark without Crowder is a pedestrian 85.6.
Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco threw six touchdowns and two interceptions over 89 throws in Crowder’s direction last year. Darnold and Wilson have thrown two touchdowns and two interceptions over 51 throws in Berrios’ direction when he has taken Crowder’s place.
In Mike LaFleur’s offense, after-the-catch ability is imperative, and the Jets have sorely missed Crowder’s talents in that area.
Crowder averaged 5.6 yards after the catch per reception last season, which ranked at the 84th percentile among qualified wide receivers. Berrios has averaged only 3.3 yards after the catch per reception as a starter, a number that would have ranked at the position’s 23rd percentile last season.
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Crowder is a more consistently reliable safety blanket than Berrios.
In 2020, Crowder produced 373 receiving yards on short passes (0 to 9 yards downfield), an average of 31.1 yards per game that ranked 14th in the NFL among wide receivers.
Berrios has produced 21.9 yards per game on those passes.
Crowder and Berrios have not had a huge difference in the volume of short catches that they’ve reeled in. Crowder averaged 3.2 short receptions per game in 2020 while Berrios has averaged 3.0 as a starter in Crowder’s place.
The difference is that Crowder has made much more out of his short-range throws. Crowder averaged 8.1 yards per target and collected a first down or a touchdown on 39% of his targets. Berrios has averaged 5.7 yards per target and recorded a conversion on 26% of his targets.
Ultimately, the story here is clear: While Berrios is certainly a strong backup and useful piece on the roster, the gap between him and Crowder is larger than many observers seem to realize.
Losing Crowder has been a crushing blow for the Jets’ offense, and the unit will benefit immensely once he returns.