Home | Articles | Analytics | How NY Jets can restore this struggling player’s effectiveness

How NY Jets can restore this struggling player’s effectiveness

Allen Lazard
Allen Lazard

One underachiever could still be effective for the New York Jets

And then there was one for the New York Jets.

Of all the Aaron Rodgers cronies the team signed in 2023, only one remains: Allen Lazard.

He’s been the subject of trade rumors recently, although the team’s beat reporters explain that the Jets are not actively shopping him. That’s hardly surprising; after Lazard’s miserable 2023 season, it is difficult to believe that any team would take on the receiver’s fully guaranteed $10 million 2024 base salary.

At this point, most Jets fans feel that the best hope is for Lazard to rebound with Rodgers back. This is often said with a quizzical or doubtful expression, seemingly a prayer more than a realistic possibility.

Still, Jets fans, there’s a legitimate reason to hope Lazard can turn it around — not enough to live up to his contract, but at least to be a contributing member of the Jets’ offense.


When the Jets first signed Lazard, Michael Nania pointed out that the receiver was coming off an inefficient 2022 season with the Packers. His catch rate, yards per target, touchdown rate, targeted quarterback rating, and contested catch rate had significantly declined from his 2019-21 norms. That’s why Nania proposed that Corey Davis would be the Jets’ No. 2 receiver rather than Lazard. Joe Blewett concurred.

This plan was blown to smoke with Davis’ sudden retirement during training camp. Lazard was now expected to be the starting Z receiver. Rather than playing in the slot 40-50% of the time, he would play almost exclusively outside. The plan took another downturn when Rodgers went down after four plays, as the shaky-handed Lazard was now expected to catch passes from the erratic Zach Wilson.

Predictably, this resulted in the worst production of Lazard’s career. He caught just 23 of 48 passes (47.9%) for 311 yards, 6.5 yards per target, 2.5 YAC per reception, 0.68 yards per route run, a 17.5% drop rate, and a 23.5% contested catch rate. All of those marks were in the bottom 10 among 81 qualified receivers at the position.

Return to earlier career

The most efficient seasons of Lazard’s career came in 2019-20. During those seasons, he ranked sixth and fifth on the Packers in targets. In 2019, he was their fourth receiver behind Davante Adams (124 targets), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (54), and Geronimo Allison (54), although he saw a similar target share to Valdes-Scantling and Allison. In 2020, he was No. 3 behind Adams (146 targets) and Valdes-Scantling (60). He also trailed running back Aaron Jones and the team’s primary tight end (Jimmy Graham and Robert Tonyan) in target share in both seasons.

In 2023, despite being benched for several games, Lazard had the fourth-most targets on the Jets and the second-most among receivers. The expectation was that he would be their No. 2 receiver, and he crumpled.

With Mike Williams in tow, though, Lazard can now slot back in where he performed the best: as a No. 3 receiver with a lower target volume. He will likely place fifth in the target hierarchy behind Garrett Wilson, Williams, Breece Hall, and Tyler Conklin. If the Jets sign or draft another receiver, that pushes Lazard even further down the target list.

Furthermore, moving back to the slot can do Lazard a lot of good. From 2019-21, Lazard caught 55 of 77 targets (71.4%) for 687 yards, 8.9 yards per target, 5 touchdowns, a 120.4 targeted passer rating, and a 2.9% catch rate over expected from the slot. Lazard played 43.5% of his snaps in the slot over this span. However, in 2023, he played just 22.2% of his snaps from the slot.

Issues won’t disappear

Lazard’s biggest issue is his hands — and that likely won’t disappear with a lower target volume, a higher slot rate, the return of Rodgers, or anything else. His career drop rate is 9.4%, and it was 8.2% even before his disastrous 2023 season. He has some of the worst catching technique ever seen in the NFL.

However, could his contested catch rate return to its pre-2022 form? Perhaps. With Rodgers’ ability to drop the ball in the perfect spot, he can pick and choose when to target Lazard and give him an optimal chance to catch the ball. Of course, the dropsies could certainly emerge as they did in the Rodgers-Lazard connection repeatedly in 2022, but a lower volume seems to work in Lazard’s favor in that area.

Additionally, Lazard’s red zone prowess could return with Rodgers throwing him the football. Zach Wilson threw just 23 combined touchdown passes from 2021-23; from 2019-22, Rodgers and Lazard hooked up for 20 touchdowns.

Better chance of a rebound

Last offseason, Laken Tomlinson and Michael Carter were the two primary underachievers whose rebound was in question. It was difficult to project their improvement simply because they fell off with little rhyme or reason. In Lazard’s case, though, the reasons to expect a rebound are concrete. Will he ever live up to his $11 million-per-year price tag? No, because that was a major overpay to begin with. But he can still be a useful part of the Jets’ receiving corps in the right situation.

Want More Jet X?

Subscribe to become a Jet X Member to unlock every piece of Jets X-Factor content (film breakdowns, analytics, Sabo with the Jets, etc.), get audio versions of each article, receive the ability to comment within our community, and experience an ad-free platform experience.

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Android (Google Play) device.

Sign up for Jet X Daily, our daily newsletter that's delivered to your inbox every morning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed and/or find us on Apple News to stay updated with the New York Jets.

Follow us on X (Formerly Twitter) @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Related Articles

About the Author

More From Author


5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter Buell
Peter Buell
1 month ago

Good to have Rodgers as a friend. What a terrible contract.