New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis cannot return soon enough: For more than one reason
Sixth-year wide receiver Corey Davis has missed the New York Jets‘ last three games after exiting the team’s Week 7 win over Denver. Things have not gone too swimmingly since Davis hit the sidelines. The Jets are 1-2 without Davis after going 5-2 in the seven games he played.
Part of that drop-off can be attributed to the two other big injuries that occurred in Denver – Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker – but there is no doubt that Davis’s absence played an integral role in each of the Jets’ two losses since he went down; perhaps equally integral to the absences of Hall and Vera-Tucker.
Denzel Mims has taken Davis’s spot over the past three games. While Mims has had occasional flashes of brilliance, his overall output has been a sizable downgrade. Compare Davis’s production over his first six games (we’ll exclude his seventh since he barely played before leaving) to Mims’s production over the last three games:
- Corey Davis (6 games from Weeks 1-6): 3.2 receptions per game, 2.8 first downs per game, 58.5 yards per game, 2 touchdowns, 1 drop, caught 4-of-7 contested targets, recorded a first down or TD on 51.5% of targets
- Denzel Mims (3 games from Weeks 8-11): 1.7 receptions per game, 1.3 first downs per game, 41.0 yards per game, 0 touchdowns, 2 drops, caught 1-of-4 contested targets, recorded a first down or TD on 30.8% of targets
The drop-off in the passing game has been clear as day to anyone who watched the Jets over the last three games. Mims simply is nowhere close to Davis as a receiving weapon.
But the Jets are also badly missing Davis in the running game.
Corey Davis’ run-blocking is an integral cog in the New York Jets’ offense
Davis is a blocking extraordinaire at the wide receiver position. With his combination of size, strength, understanding of angles, and sheer will, Davis creates running lanes to a degree that few NFL wideouts can match.
New York’s run game has been shockingly dependent on Davis’s presence. It’s odd to say that about a wide receiver, but the numbers back it up.
Check out the difference in the Jets’ rushing production this season (excluding QB runs) with Davis on the field versus when he is off:
- Corey Davis on field: 111 carries for 575 yards (5.18 YPC)
- Corey Davis off field: 109 carries for 426 yards (3.91 YPC)
The Jets are averaging 5.18 YPC with Davis on the field and 3.91 YPC with him off, a margin of 1.27. That is a monumental difference. For perspective, that is similar to the difference between the Jacksonville Jaguars’ fourth-ranked rushing efficiency (5.08 YPC) and the Cincinnati Bengals’ 29th-ranked rushing efficiency (3.87 YPC).
Davis’s presence determines whether the Jets run like a top-five team or a bottom-five team. It’s absolutely staggering how important he is to New York’s rushing attack.
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You might be wondering whether the absences of Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker over the past three games had any effect on these numbers. While there is a slight difference if we adjust for Hall and Vera-Tucker’s injuries, the story remains the same.
Here are the Jets’ numbers over the first seven games when Davis, Hall, and Vera-Tucker were all active:
- Corey Davis on field: 111 carries for 575 yards (5.18 YPC)
- Corey Davis off field: 47 carries for 196 yards (4.17 YPC)
The margin shrinks from 1.27 to 1.01 if we only look at the games where Hall and Vera-Tucker played, but that is still enormous. It’s similar to the gap between the fourth-ranked Jaguars and the 24th-ranked Miami Dolphins (4.16 YPC).
With Davis sidelined, the Jets hoped that Denzel Mims could replicate Davis’s impact as a blocker. Mims has a 6-foot-3, 207-pound frame to rival Davis’s 6-foot-3, 209-pound frame.
Unfortunately, Mims has not proven to be capable of matching Davis as a blocker. While Mims’s peak moments as a blocker are similarly impressive to Davis’s thanks to his physical traits, Mims’s consistency is nowhere near as stable as Davis’s. He’s hot and cold as a blocker.
This has been apparent over the past three games. Mims had a great blocking performance in New York’s win over the Buffalo Bills, but he struggled as a blocker in the Jets’ two losses to the New England Patriots. On film, Mims can be seen as the culprit for multiple run-stuffs in each of those defeats. Seen below are three plays from the Week 11 game where he allowed a run to be stuffed.
New York’s weak rushing attack sans Davis was one of the main reasons for both of the losses to New England. The Jets rushed for 110 yards on 38 carries across those two games (2.89 YPC). If you take out the quarterback runs, the numbers dwindle to 82 yards on 34 carries (2.41 YPC).
These performances were extremely disappointing considering that the Patriots have not been stellar at stopping the run this year. New England entered Week 11 ranked 19th in rush defense DVOA. New York’s run game against New England’s run defense was supposed to be one of the biggest advantages in the Jets’ favor, but they failed to maximize it in both games, and that was a primary reason they got swept.
Mims is obviously not entirely at fault for those rushing woes. Still, if Davis played in either of those New England games, the Jets likely would have performed much better on the ground. A few more big pickups in the run game could’ve been all the Jets needed to flip the result of either of those games.
Robert Saleh said on Monday that Davis is day-to-day with his knee injury and the team is hopeful he can return to face the Chicago Bears in Week 12. The Jets are crossing their fingers that he can finally get back out there – not just to rejuvenate the passing game, but the run game as well.
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