The New York Jets should give Breece Hall more opportunities to shine as a route runner, and Nathaniel Hackett is the perfect man to do it
I was rewatching some film from the New York Jets‘ Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals (yes, I am a glutton for torture), and something caught my eye: Breece Hall has some tantalizing potential as a route runner.
Hall ran two crisp routes against Cincinnati that impressed the heck out of me.
On the first play, Hall comes out of the backfield and draws a one-on-one against a linebacker – scorching him on the angle route. Hall squares him up, skips toward him, throws an outside fake, and then breaks inside. After the catch, Hall bounces off defenders for oodles of YAC.
On the second play, Hall flexes out wide and runs a slant against a safety on third-and-short. This play might look routine at first, but there are so many nuanced details to this route that I love. These are traits that would be impressive for a wide receiver, let alone a running back.
Instead of just darting inside, which would tip his hand and allow the safety to beat him to the spot, Hall stems toward the safety for the first few steps, keeping him honest. Then, Hall gives a slight hesitation before breaking sharply to the inside, just beyond the first-down marker. (Side note: the quickness of his break is stellar.) Hall proceeds to show excellent route-running awareness and feel as he settles into the soft spot between the two defenders. Hall snags a pass thrown slightly behind him and dives forward for extra yards, ensuring he picks up the first down.
So much to love in just two plays.
Play: 👉 the Jet X Offseason Simulator
I continued combing through Hall’s film in search of more stellar route-running moments, but I couldn’t find anything particularly notable. That’s not because the two plays seen above were outliers for Hall in regard to his consistency as a route runner. It’s because the Jets hardly ever placed him in those positions. Generally, all Hall ever did in the passing game was block or serve as a checkdown option. The Jets didn’t give him many opportunities to create offense as a route runner.
In my opinion, the Jets missed out by not giving Hall more chances to flex his route running muscles. I believe there is a ton of untapped potential for Hall in this area.
Using Hall more frequently as a route runner would be a great way to create opportunities for him to utilize his special after-the-catch skills. Hall forced eight missed tackles on just 19 receptions in 2022. That’s an average of 0.421 missed tackles forced per reception, which ranked third-best out of 61 qualified running backs (min. 15 receptions).
Specifically speaking, giving Hall a greater quantity of in-breaking routes (like the two we watched above) would be an especially good path to unleashing Hall’s open-field skills. The first of those two plays is the perfect example. Give Hall the ball with a head of steam toward the middle of the field and let him work his magic. I think downfield routes are a better way to let him cook than screen passes, which give him the ball in a stationary position behind the line of scrimmage.
The Jets have themselves a special offensive weapon in Breece Hall. And when you have a weapon of Hall’s caliber, it’s smart to utilize him in many different ways rather than simply force-feed him rush attempts and screen passes. Move him around the formation. Create mismatches for him. Keep defenses on their toes.
Read More Jet X Content:
I was in the middle of writing this article when the Jets announced they hired Nathaniel Hackett as their offensive coordinator. Prior to this, I was just going to conclude the article by merely stating that the new OC hire, whoever it would be, should give Hall more chances to run routes.
But once the Hackett hire was announced, I quickly realized that Hackett might be the perfect man to unlock Hall in this part of the game.
During his three years as the offensive coordinator in Green Bay, Hackett did a stellar job of featuring his running backs in the aerial attack. Take a look at the receiving numbers accumulated by the Packers’ running backs from 2019 to 2021, and where those numbers ranked across the NFL:
- Targets per game: 6.3 (4th)
- Receptions per game: 5.0 (4th)
- Receiving yards per game: 40.4 (4th)
- Total receiving touchdowns: 19 (2nd)
- Receiving yards per target: 6.5 (9th)
The Packers targeted their running backs very frequently and produced efficient results when doing so. Most notable of all, they loved targeting their running backs in the red zone. Green Bay’s running backs caught an average of 6.3 touchdowns per season during Hackett’s tenure.
Jets fans have been deprived of seeing their running backs involved in the passing game, especially in the red zone. Over the past three seasons, the Jets’ running backs combined for just four receiving touchdowns, ranking 31st in the league (ahead of only the Raiders’ three).
Breece Hall can be one of the best receiving backs in the NFL. Nathaniel Hackett just may be the right man to help Hall fulfill that potential.
Next Article: NY Jets hire Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator
Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here
Want More NY Jets News & Jets X-Factor Content?
Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Google/Android (Google Play) device.
Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed to stay up to date with the New York Jets.
Join the official Jets Discord community to connect with likeminded fans.