Zero interceptions (only team in NFL)
The New York Jets have yet to pick off a pass through five games. They are the only team in the NFL with zero interceptions as of the conclusion of Week 6.
If I told you before the season that this would happen, you likely wouldn’t be too surprised. The Jets’ cornerback position was largely considered the weakest unit on the roster due to its extreme lack of experience. It would not be much of a shock to hear that they would fail to snag a pick through five games, as that fact would suggest they’d be, as expected, one of the worst units in football.
But the New York cornerback unit is not the NFL’s worst – far from it, actually. The group has been arguably the best unit on the team and one of the best cornerback units in the NFL.
The Jets’ cornerbacks have combined to allow 564 yards over 596 snaps in coverage. That’s a collective average of 0.95 yards allowed per cover snap, which ranks seventh-best out of the league’s 32 cornerback units.
Plus, the Jets’ corners have yet to give up a touchdown pass. They remain the only cornerback unit that has not been beaten for a score.
To top it all off, the Jets’ cornerbacks have committed only two penalties, tied for second-fewest among all units.
Ignore the interception column. This cornerback group has been really good.
If they keep playing at the level they have been, the corners should see some interceptions come their way in due time.
372.8 yards per game allowed (22nd in NFL)
One glance at the defensive yardage leaderboard tells us that the Jets have the NFL’s 22nd-ranked defense.
When you throw context into the mix, it is clear that the unit has been better than that.
The Jets’ defense has started its average drive on the opponent’s 34.5-yard line – the worst average starting field position in the NFL.
Yet, New York has given up a pedestrian 2.14 points per drive, ranking as the 17th-fewest.
The 15-spot difference in the Jets’ field-position ranking and points-per-drive ranking is the fifth-largest disparity of any defense in the NFL:
- Buffalo Bills, 23 (1st in points per drive, 24th in field position)
- Carolina Panthers, 22 (6th in points per drive, 28th in field position)
- Cincinnati Bengals, 19 (3rd in points per drive, 22nd in field position)
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 18 (12th in points per drive, 30th in field position)
- New York Jets, 15 (17th in points per drive, 32nd in field position)
That is a signal that the Jets’ defense is vastly outperforming the expectations laid upon them by the situations they have been placed in.
The Jets have had eight defensive drives that started in their own territory (excluding end-of-game drives). That is an average of 1.6 per game, ranking as the third-most in the NFL behind the Panthers (1.7) and Washington Football Team (1.8).
On those drives, the Jets’ defense has yielded only one touchdown, a league-low 12.5% rate.
New York’s overall defensive numbers are average to below average across the board, but when you consider the difficulty of the situations the defense has been placed in by the Jets’ putrid offense, it looks like a much better group.
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3.6 sacks per game allowed (2nd-most in NFL)
The sack column suggests that the Jets have a putrid offensive line. New York has allowed 18 sacks in five games, an average of 3.6 per game that ranks second-worst in the NFL behind the Chicago Bears (3.7).
In reality, the Jets’ offensive line really hasn’t been that bad in pass protection. It had a rough start to the year, but after back-to-back solid performances against the Titans and Falcons, its overall numbers on the season are more competent than anything the Jets have seen in years.
Pro Football Focus has the Jets with a team-wide pass-blocking grade of 62.8. That ranks 14th out of 32 teams.
So, what gives? How can the Jets be so bad in the sack column if their offensive line has (at least by PFF’s evaluation) been decent?
Well, the fact of the matter is that many of the Jets’ sacks were Zach Wilson‘s fault.
PFF blamed Wilson as the primary culprit for seven of the 18 sacks that he has taken this year. Even with Wilson having a week off, that remains the highest total of any quarterback in the league.
Wilson’s average sack has occurred 3.97 seconds after the snap, the fifth-longest snap-to-sack time in the NFL out of 32 qualified quarterbacks.
The rookie is showing some progress in this category as he has only taken three sacks over the past two games (1.5 per game) after taking 15 over his first three (5.0 per game). However, two of those three sacks were still blamed on Wilson.
New York’s offensive line is starting to stabilize. It’s time for the young quarterback behind it to take advantage.
Michael Carter’s 3.5 yards per carry
Rookie running back Michael Carter is averaging a measly 3.5 yards per carry, which ranks 43rd out of 49 qualified NFL rushers. He has produced 165 yards on 47 totes.
Those numbers would suggest that Carter has been a lackluster runner, but that isn’t true at all. He has been remarkably elusive, gaining much more than what has been blocked for him.
Carter is credited by PFF with forcing 11 missed tackles as a rusher this season. That is an average of 0.234 per carry, which ranks seventh-best out of 54 qualified running backs.
To boot, Carter has forced five missed tackles on nine receptions for an average of 0.556 per reception as a receiver. That is tied for third-best among the 46 running backs with at least nine receptions.
Carter is playing good football. Once the run-blocking in front of him stabilizes, his box-score numbers will begin to showcase that.
Elijah Moore’s 16.5 yards per game
This is a topic I have already discussed ad nauseam, but it fits perfectly into this article so I have to bring it up.
Elijah Moore is averaging 16.5 yards per game with 66 receiving yards in four appearances. He has eight receptions for two first downs and zero touchdowns.
On paper, that is flat-out terrible for a much-hyped second-round pick who was touted as unstoppable throughout training camp.
The numbers are telling an egregious lie in this scenario. The film reveals the truth.
When you focus solely on Moore’s individual effort as a route-runner on a play-to-play basis, he is performing excellently. The guy is always open.
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