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NY Jets offense made long overdue switch and reaped the rewards

Jeremy Ruckert, NY Jets, Stats
Jeremy Ruckert, New York Jets, Getty Images

Nathaniel Hackett made the move New York Jets fans were clamoring for

New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was being dragged through the mud by practically all of New York and New Jersey last week – we at Jets X-Factor included. But in Week 4, Hackett earned redemption with a well-coached game that featured a vast array of smart moves.

Some of these moves were perceived as obvious by media and fans alike, but nonetheless, Hackett deserves credit for not wasting any more time to make them.

Of those moves, none was seen as a more clear-as-day decision than giving Jeremy Ruckert more playing time.

Against Kansas City, Ruckert finally received his well-deserved boost in snaps. Ruckert played a career-high 25 offensive snaps, making up 42% of the Jets’ offensive snaps.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the decision paid great dividends.

The Jets offense was electric while Ruckert was on the field. He made his mark in both phases to help the unit function at a high level.

These were Zach Wilson’s passing numbers on plays with Ruckert on the field:

  • 9/12 for 88 yards
  • 14-yard scramble
  • 2 TD, 0 INT
  • 1 sack (-7 yards)
  • 6.8 yards per play
  • 134.7 passer rating

Ruckert caught both of the passes thrown his way for 26 yards, highlighted by this outstanding back-shoulder grab on a deep fade route. Just as impressive as the grab is Ruckert’s route.

Ruckert also continued to block at a high level in the run game. On nine carries with Ruckert on the field, the Jets ran for 66 yards (7.3 yards per carry). Much of that yardage came on this 43-yard scamper by Breece Hall, which Ruckert helped set up with an outstanding second-level block.

For the first time, Ruckert out-snapped C.J. Uzomah, who only played 21 snaps in this game (36%). Uzomah, though, deserves a lot of credit for his recent production. After an ice-cold start to the season, Uzomah has responded with back-to-back quality games. Uzomah blocked at a very consistent level against New England, and against Kansas City, he hauled in a dazzling touchdown. Perhaps a smaller role gets the best out of Uzomah.

Other smart changes by Hackett

Expanding Ruckert’s role was not the only smart personnel decision by Hackett.

Shifty rookie Xavier Gipson finally started to get involved in the offense. The Stephen F. Austin product played 11 offensive snaps (19%) after getting just one in the first three games of the season.

The Jets made it a point to manufacture touches for Gipson. He was given two rushing attempts; one was poorly set up and resulted in a one-yard loss, but the other was an electric 14-yard play (featuring another standout block from Ruckert).

Gipson also caught his only target for four yards.

Gipson’s increase in playing time came at the cost of Randall Cobb, who played a season-low 39% of the snaps (23 total). Diminishing Cobb’s role was another smart move by Hackett, as Cobb’s production has not come close to justifying his playing time. Cobb has 20 scrimmage yards on 114 offensive snaps this season; Gipson already has 17 scrimmage yards on 12 snaps.

Going forward, the Jets would be wise to continue increasing Gipson’s snap count at the cost of Cobb.

Another player who took some of Cobb’s snaps is Mecole Hardman, who played six snaps (his season-high if you count out 14 snaps against Dallas that all came in garbage time), although he wasn’t targeted. Still, we saw a handful of instances where Hardman commanded respect with his deep speed to help open up space underneath.

Even if Hardman isn’t being targeted, he still makes a bigger impact than Cobb simply because of the respect commanded by his speed. If Cobb were placed in the same situations as Hardman in the plays above, the defense likely would’ve played softer coverage, making it easy for them to diagnose the routes being run underneath Cobb.

It seems obvious that the Jets should continue taking away Cobb’s snaps and giving them to the combination of Gipson and Hardman. After finally seeing the light with Ruckert, this is the next obvious move that Hackett must make (in addition to fully benching Dalvin Cook).

While it took a few games – perhaps one or two more games than fans would have liked – it appears the Jets offense is finally starting to get a proper feel for how to maximize the talent at their disposal.

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