New York Jets running back Breece Hall fixes 3 issues that New York’s RB room had
The New York Jets‘ selection of Iowa State running back Breece Hall was an exciting one for many reasons, with the most notable of those reasons being the fact that Hall brings abilities that the Jets’ running back unit previously lacked.
Here are three areas where Hall will provide a major boost for the Jets’ running back room.
The Jets’ running backs combined for 15 drops in 2021, the most of any running back unit in the NFL. That was nearly triple the average drop total of all other running back units (5.6).
Ty Johnson led all NFL running backs with nine drops, per Pro Football Focus. Michael Carter also struggled with drops despite his overall prowess as a receiver. Carter tied for sixth among running backs with five drops.
Few things are more frustrating for a quarterback than watching an accurate pass hit the turf. These moments are especially frustrating when they occur on wide-open checkdowns that should provide the offense with easy yardage.
Easy drops by the running backs can be detrimental to the development of a young quarterback like Zach Wilson. They put the youngster into worse down-and-distance situations when he should have been rewarded for his safe decision with a healthy chunk of yards.
A young QB can form bad habits due to drops by the running backs. He can lose confidence in his running backs’ ability to catch the ball, possibly leading him to ignore them and make poor overaggressive decisions down the field. Or, even when he does throw to them, he could find himself momentarily second-guessing whether he trusts them enough to throw the ball to them, leading to late throws and lost yardage.
The bottom line is that nothing good comes out of drops by the running backs.
Hall will make sure these passes no longer go to waste. Wilson will feel confident about dumping the ball off to his new backfield-mate.
In each of the past two seasons, Hall had only one drop. Making 59 catches over that span, Hall had a drop rate of just 3.3% from 2020 to 2021, which is less than half of the 2021 NFL average for running backs (6.8%).
The pass-blocking game was another area where the Jets’ running backs had issues.
New York’s running backs allowed a total of 15 pressures, per PFF, tying for the second-most among running back units. Four of those 15 pressures were sacks, also tying for the second-most.
Johnson tied for fifth among running backs with eight pressures allowed while Carter tied for 17th with five. Three of Carter’s five allowed pressures were sacks, tying him for the most sacks allowed by a running back.
Among 54 qualified running backs (30+ pass-blocking snaps), Johnson’s allowed pressure rate of 14.3% ranked 44th while Carter’s rate of 9.6% ranked 34th. The positional average was 8.8%.
While Hall was not a superhuman pass-blocker in college, he was solid, giving him the chance to enter the NFL as a league-average pass-blocker. That would still be a big upgrade for the Jets.
In 2021, Hall gave up four pressures over 70 pass-blocking snaps, which is an allowed pressure rate of 5.7%. The FBS average for running backs was 8.1%.
Hall was actually even better in 2020 as he coughed up four pressures over 81 pass-blocking snaps (4.9% rate).
At 217 pounds, Hall is bigger than any of the running backs the Jets used in 2021. He’ll provide a sturdier wall in front of Zach Wilson than what he received in his rookie year.
New York’s running backs did not necessarily struggle at picking up big plays on the ground last year. They combined for 14 rushes of 15+ yards, ranking 16th among running back units. Not too shabby.
Hitting doubles and triples is something the Jets’ backfield was already capable of doing. What they have long been unable to do is hit home runs.
Hall brings that coveted ability to produce one or two-play touchdown drives. Jets head coach Robert Saleh mentioned this exact trait when discussing Hall after the draft.
“To add someone like Breece who is a home run hitter, part of the goal was to add some guys when they touch the ball, they can take it 80 [yards],” Saleh said. “One of the hardest things to do in football is live in 10-play drives, and to be able to have a couple of one or two play drives, every once in a while, will be welcomed.”
The Jets have gone three straight seasons without a rush of 70+ yards. They have not had a player record a rush of 70+ yards since Isaiah Crowell belted out a 77-yard scamper against the Broncos in 2019.
Hall, on the other hand, had six rushes of 70+ yards over the past three seasons, including three in 2021.
Over the same three-year span, Hall had nine rushes for 50+ yards while the Jets’ running backs had one. Hall had four rushes for 50+ yards in 2021 alone.
What makes Hall special is this: He thrives at turning the “good” plays into “incredible” plays. When the offensive line gives him a hole, he earns well beyond what is blocked for him.
In 2021, Hall had 22 breakaway runs (rushes for 15+ yards) and gained 778 yards off of those. That’s an average of 35.4 yards per breakaway run, which was the best mark among the 45 Power-5 running backs with at least 10 breakaway runs.
Hall maximizes good blocking at an outstanding level. Clear out 15 yards for him and he’ll turn it into 70.
Running behind what figures to be a strong offensive line in New York, Hall should get plenty of opportunities to continue hitting home runs.
Aaron Judge is about to face a serious challenger for the title of New York’s best power hitter.