At last, the New York Jets turned back the clock and ran their offense around 12 personnel
When the New York Jets paid a combined $25 million in guaranteed money to sign free-agent tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, it seemed like they had a clear plan: to run an offense that was predicated upon heavy usage of 12 personnel packages (1 RB, 2 TE).
It’s taken some time, but it appears the Jets are finally making 12 personnel packages a fixture in their offense. We saw New York enact a significant philosophy shift in Week 6.
Here is a look at the Jets’ 12 personnel usage in each game this season, per NFL Next Gen Stats:
- Week 1 vs. BAL: 14 plays (17.7%)
- Week 2 at CLE: 13 plays (19.7%)
- Week 3 vs. CIN: 9 plays (11.8%)
- Week 4 at PIT: 13 plays (19.4%)
- Week 5 vs. MIA: 12 plays (21.4%)
- Week 6 at GB: 18 plays (34.0%)
For reference, the NFL average this season is 17.9%.
In their 27-10 road win over the Green Bay Packers, the Jets used 12 personnel on 34.0% of their offensive plays, a new season-high by a wide margin.
The Jets experienced some of their best offensive success against the Packers while using 12 personnel.
Across five passing plays out of 12 personnel, the Jets picked up 48 yards (9.6 yards per play). They only gained 41 yards on their other 15 passing plays that did not feature 12 personnel (2.7 yards per play).
New York amassed 13 carries for 47 yards when running 12 personnel. The yards-per-carry average of 3.6 doesn’t look great, but the Jets were much more effective than that number lets on. They had a 38.5% rushing success rate (above the 2022 league average of 37.1% when using 12P) and averaged +0.07 Expected Points Added per play (above the league average of -0.07).
Throughout the game, you could see the Jets were gradually breaking the Packers’ will. Their methodical, physical approach – predicated upon heavy usage of two-tight-end run plays – allowed them to establish control of the line of scrimmage. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Jets started running the ball down the Packers’ throats with 12 personnel on every play, chewing the clock with ease.
It wasn’t just 12 personnel that saw a spike in this game. The Jets also increased their usage of a few other “heavy” packages.
Here is the Jets’ personnel distribution against Green Bay:
- 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR): 20 plays (37.7%)
- 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR): 18 plays (34.0%)
- 21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR): 8 plays (15.1%)
- 13 personnel (1 RB, 3 TE, 1 WR): 4 plays (7.5%)
- 22 personnel (2 RB, 2 TE, 1 WR): 2 plays (3.8%)
- 02 personnel (0 RB, 2 TE, 3 WR): 1 play (1.9%)
The most notable aspect of that breakdown is the significant decline in 11 personnel, which is the go-to package in the modern NFL by a longshot. NFL teams are using 11 personnel on 62.0% of their offensive plays this year. New York used it just 37.7% of the time in Green Bay.
Take a look at the Jets’ 11 personnel usage this season:
- Week 1 vs. BAL: 59 plays (74.7%)
- Week 2 at CLE: 45 plays (68.2%)
- Week 3 vs. CIN: 64 plays (84.2%)
- Week 4 at PIT: 46 plays (68.7%)
- Week 5 vs. MIA: 32 plays (57.1%)
- Week 6 at GB: 20 plays (37.7%)
The Jets were an 11-heavy team over the first four weeks. In their Week 5 game against the Dolphins, the Jets began showing signs of a philosophical shift as they dipped under the NFL average in 11 personnel usage for the first time. They then took a complete nosedive in Week 6.
The decline in 11 personnel usage means that the Jets are taking away snaps from the wide receivers and giving them to the tight ends.
Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore has been the primary victim of the Jets’ recent slice in 11 usage. After playing 90% of the team’s snaps over his first four games, Moore played a season-low 66% in Week 5 and followed that up with a season-low 58% in Week 6.
Garrett Wilson is another receiver whose snaps have taken a hit. Wilson had played 67% of the snaps from Weeks 2-4. He dropped to 56% in Week 5 and then stooped to a season-low 44% in Week 6.
At tight end, Tyler Conklin has been a mainstay for the Jets offense all year, playing 83% of their offensive snaps this season. But Uzomah was a non-factor early on. In recent weeks, though, Uzomah has caught up to Conklin in terms of playing time.
Uzomah is the man who has taken most of Moore and Wilson’s reps. His playing time has increased on a weekly basis this year:
- Week 1: 23 snaps (27%)
- Week 2: Missed game
- Week 3: 27 snaps (35%)
- Week 4: 31 snaps (44%)
- Week 5: 41 snaps (69%)
- Week 6: 43 snaps (78%)
Uzomah is eating into Conklin’s reps, too, as Uzomah has actually out-snapped Conklin in two consecutive games. Conklin played a season-low 68% of the snaps in Week 5 and dropped again to 67% in Week 6. Over the first four games, he was at 88%.
It is easy to see why the Jets are gaining more confidence in Uzomah. The former Bengals tight end is starting to look like a real asset as a blocker. Check out his key block to spring this touchdown run by Braxton Berrios (Conklin has a key block as well on this 12-personnel masterclass):
Look at @T_Conk1.
Look at @cj_uzomah.
Look at @DuaneBrown76.
Look at @HNYNUT_BERRIOS.
Beautiful.#NYJvsGB on FOX pic.twitter.com/qbpIHMZXPt
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 16, 2022
It’s an interesting quandary for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. The Jets are winning games right now, and the 12 personnel packages are a big reason why. These packages are helping the Jets establish their desired identity as a physically imposing, run-first football team.
However, New York’s heavy reliance on 12 personnel is resulting in peculiar snap-count distribution. Uzomah – who is no more than a blocking tight end in his current role – is playing significantly more snaps than a pair of talented wide receivers in Moore and Wilson. Will that lead the Jets to their best success in the long run?
Keep an eye on the Jets’ personnel-package decisions going forward. It will tell us a lot about the type of football team they want to be.
I think the best approach for LaFleur would be to remain malleable. Be ready to pull out whatever works best for that particular situation.
In this week’s game against Green Bay, Zach Wilson and the Jets’ receivers were struggling while Breece Hall and the Jets’ run blockers were thriving. So, LaFleur leaned into what was working.
But there will be other games when Wilson is cooking and his receivers are consistently winning their matchups. When that happens, LaFleur must be ready to tilt the snap-count pendulum away from the tight ends and toward the wide receivers.
For now, though, there is little reason to fret. The Jets have found a formula that is working.
As you have mentioned before Mike, The Stat line on a particular player does not tell the whole tale about that players performance. True analysts like yourself see through that and bring it into perspective for us fellow fans. Players like Davis, Wilson (WR) and Berrios are doing so much more than there stats tell. In the blocking game as well in the pre snap motion. Even if Moore is being used as a decoy on deeper routes, and is being asked to do his best in the blocking game then He is still contributing to the overall goal and that is to keep winning games. I believe his time will come to display his receiving ability and contribute in that aspect. Until then I hope he can remain patient and realize that he is contributing to Victory just as much as anybody else.
The thing about this offense is that it’s so deep with weapons that it will be very hard for anyone to finish this season with amazing receiving numbers. And that’s not a knock on anybody’s individual performance, it’s just a product of the fact that everyone is going to get their turn to be in the spotlight and everyone is going to get their turn to take a back seat/contribute in subtler ways. From a team perspective, that’s great. Opponents have so many different things to think about. And with such a versatile and deep array of options, the Jets have answers for whatever defenses throw at them.
It just makes it so that we have to evaluate these guys beyond their stat lines, as you said. As long as the Jets are winning, it’s fine that some guys might not be putting up the best stats. All they need is for everyone to come through when called upon and to handle their dirty-working responsibilities that do not involve getting the football. And for the most part, those things have been happening this year.
Great article Mike
Successful pro sports teams make adjustments, w/in their own team and in response to opponents. I have no doubt that we will start seeing teams defend the run by packing the box. At which point we will have to use our passing game weapons. The last time we were successful was when we had an incredible OLine and Thomas Jones. Then we would use Braylon and Jericho (Dustin Keller) when teams loaded the box.
I don’t believe that Saleh and Joe D got our high-ticket TE’s to hide Zach’s shortcomings. Every good West Coast Offense makes strong use of good TE’s, we didn’t have any.
Denver’s defense is excellent, and Belicheat always takes away a teams greatest strength; we will see how LaFleur adjusts.
I thought yesterday was the best coaching job this staff has done since arriving. For a while I thought maybe they mixed the headsets up and the other Laflaur was calling our plays. 😜Kudos to Mike, he had it right all day.
So of course, the minute you start winning the malcontents start malcontententing. Elijah Moore vs the 2 TEs is going to be a problem for Moore, sorry. The best player on the offense is Breece Hall. Garrett Wilson may end up being the best player at some point but right now its Hall, you have to ride him. Moore’s real problem is that the worst player on the offense is the QB and in order to protect him and cover his faults they have to play exactly the way they did yesterday and run it heavily.
This has been a nice last month and things are looking up. One caution. The QB, who is improving, is still terrible and that’s the real issue. He’s made a few plays but even the pass to Davis yesterday was not a good throw because it would have been a TD had he made a good throw. He hasn’t turned it over, credit there, but hes been lucky and yesterday he was scary and out of control on the off schedule stuff. Moore doesn’t have the cache to complain, IMO, but its clear how he feels. For me the real choice is Moore vs the 2TEs and Hall, and I’ll take the TEs and Hall every day. Its not Moore’s fault, the problem is the QB.
I think Joe Douglas and Saleh agree with you that the QB is their worst offensive player because they traded up to draft for Breece Hall in the first place, and added not one but three new tight ends. I always thought those moves were significant in terms of their opinion of Wilson. They were obviously anticipating the schemes they are using now, and trying to protect Wilson as much as possible. I am very intrigued/nervous to see how the diabolical Bill Belichick defenses the Jets in a couple of weeks. I imagine he will load the box to counter the run game and dare Wilson to beat them, so it will be an opportunity for him to shine, or not, and maybe for Moore to get some targets.
This isn’t about Zach being the “worst player on offense” it’s about developing him as a QB. They didn’t go out and make the personnel changes to cover up for him, they did it to help him grow. He hasn’t even played the equivalent of a full NFL season. I agree the throw to Davis could have been a TD but throwing on the run like that isn’t easy, and he’s basically a month into action after being off for 6 weeks.
This is about development. The passing game WILL catch up. Moore’s problem is he’s too small to be playing on the outside. The windows to throw to him are too tight since he can’t create space with his “frame.” Zach IS trying to make every effort to take care of the ball which I believe is why the targets to Moore have been down. There simply isn’t the same window there as with other WR’s. Moore’s problem isn’t the QB, Moore’s problem is Moore.
Clearly they want to run the ball, and clearly Hall is a weapon. They will and should continue to feature him but there will be a time this season when they put it all together. Passing and running game.
Zach wasn’t being protected when he put the team on his back in Pitt and brought them back. I don’t think Zach is terrible, like you mentioned he’s improving. This takes time. Luckily they didn’t need a huge passing game last week. Ideally, they will continue to pound on teams, but Zach’s break out is coming.
Agree with your comments…especially about Moore being better suited to the slot. Also, I like Zach and have no problems with him learning in real time how to manage an NFL game. He’s learning how to protect the football. His games against Tampa and Pittsburgh shows that he can carry them at times. Likely just not consistently yet. The way they’ve built the team…you can win in a variety of ways. Nice problem to have.
You know a guy is playing well when you notice his blocking play after play and clearly Uzomah set a tone. I think finally having the same OL in place two games in a row also helps. They are just going to have to adapt game by game, and the players are going have to accept their roles.
Moore already joining the twitter party while the team has just won 3 games in a row saying “I’m not gonna say anything” but by tweeting he IS ACTUALLY saying something is extremely disappointing. That said the passing game needs to catch up if this team is going anywhere but let’s not put Moore’s stat line on Zach, he was no better with Flacco. Not to mention a review of the game film shows Moore taking a play off in Pitt where his defender was able to peel off and get a pick that should have at worst been an overthrow, at best a great catch. In fairness to Moore if he is the “game changing” player the coaches have been saying he is then they need to make more of an effort to get him the ball.
It’s becoming clearer to me week after week that his production last year on the outside was a aberration and he needs to move to the slot. He’s too small, and his separation isn’t great for a “fast guy.” I know there was a lot of film saying he’s getting open but without any data, it seems he’s not getting open “fast enough.” I saw him blanked yesterday. Do you have any thoughts/data on that?
I know they wanted to break Garrett in with snaps in the slot but let’s be real they didn’t draft him 10th overall to be their slot guy. It may be time to interchange roles and get Moore in the slot which may help the entire offense. Clearly he’s being wasted on the outside.
The Jets played complimentary football yesterday on a “macro level” meaning Offense, Defense, Special Teams, now they need to get the offense to play complimentary football meaning the passing game and running game helping each other.
I’m disappointed in Moore’s comments, it’s not the end of the world but it’s not cool to get on social media and make it about yourself when the team is winning. Didn’t think he was that kind of guy.
I agree, it’s time to move him into the slot and Wilson outside. That’s not to say there’s no interchangeability and that they can’t both move around at times, but Moore should primarily be inside and Wilson outside. I think it’s clear that would be the best way to maximize each of them.
I didn’t think he was that kind of guy either but he did have that slip up at Ole Miss, not saying people can’t change but maybe he’s got more growing up to do?
Now he’s backtracking but really, if I were his coach, I take that comment, print it and say, “you want the ball? Get open more.”
My high school hoops coach told one player who was complaining about not getting the ball to “get some rebounds, then you’ll have the ball.” It stuck with me.
Simplistic truth: you can be a consistent playoff participant doing one thing really well. You can be a superbowl champion doing one thing incredibly well. If you want to be a dynasty, you have to be able to do many things very well, have a coaching staff that can take advantage, and have a bunch of players that buy in and check their egos.
Like Uzomah on TE screens, the cagey vet is a great actor, can run after the catch. Conklin great Qb sneak , very nice clutch 16 yard catch