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Dan Orlovsky says NY Jets’ success will come down to this metric

NY Jets, Dan Orlovsky, ESPN, Aaron Rodgers
Dan Orlovsky, New York Jets, Getty Images

Will this single stat determine the New York Jets’ offensive success?

Depending on who you ask, the New York Jets’ 2024 season could come down to various factors. Some believe it will be the health of the team, the ability of Aaron Rodgers, or the team’s defense. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky believes that a successful Jets’ season hinges on their ability to maximize YAC opportunities.

“The Jets’ season, in many ways, is going to come down to how good their offense is with YAC – yards after the catch,” said Orlovsky. “Yes, health is gonna be a part of that, and their defense will be fantastic. But if we go back to 2020 and 2021, Aaron’s back-to-back MVP seasons, the things that stand out are one, thirty percent of his passes over that two-year span are behind the line of scrimmage. Number two, 4,438 yards of his, came on yards after the catch. That was third in the NFL during that time. Per completion over that two-year span, he averaged six yards after the catch. That was second in the NFL. 53 percent of his yards in that two-year span were on yards after the catch.”

Orlovsky believes that the Jets’ offensive playmakers will need to show that they can get YAC when given proper opportunities. While Rodgers is still an elite quarterback, he is 40 years old and coming off of a serious injury. If he’s asked to go above and beyond (like some pundits believe he should), it could negatively impact the product on the field. Because of that, Garrett Wilson, Malachi Corley, Breece Hall, and the rest of the Jets’ offense must take the burden off of Rodgers. It’s something that Orlovsky believes needs to happen if the Jets want to have a successful season in 2024.

“A huge part of [the Jets] offense and the success it has complementary to that defense is gonna be how great Garrett Wilson is with the ball in his hands on the RPOs,” claims Orlovsky. “And, how great is Malachi Corley with the ball in his hands on the RPOs. I think Allen Lazard will play a bigger part in that regard, and Breece Hall. Their offense, and how good it is, in complementary elements to that defense is going to come down to where they rank in yards after the catch. Specifically, on those RPOs.”

Thankfully for the Jets, they drafted one of the best YAC receivers of the 2024 draft in Corley. Corley ranked fifth among all FBS wide receivers last year with 683 YAC. He also ranked 16th among 194 qualified wide receivers with his 8.6 YAC per reception.

Rodgers’ former Packers teammate also proved to be a decent YAC option during their time together in Green Bay. In their final year together with the Packers, Lazard’s 4.4 YAC per reception was 35th among 84 qualifying receivers. His 266 total YAC ranked 33rd.

Meanwhile, YAC ability is something that Wilson can work on this season. Wilson’s 319 YAC was 30th among all wide receivers. However, his 3.4 YAC per reception ranked tied-55th among 80 qualified receivers (min. 50 targets). He was more effective in his rookie year, ranking 25th among 80 qualifiers with 4.7 YAC per reception.

The Jets’ offense could still find success without heavily utilizing YAC components. However, as Orlovsky alluded to, relying on YAC gives them the best chance to make a serious playoff run in 2024.

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