Bates, Darnold Need to Spread the Wealth in Jets Aerial Attack
Mapping out the rest of the Jets 2018 season after only three games have been played is about as pointless as one could get. It seems that every season, some teams have either started off hot and quickly cooled off, or came out of the gate lethargic, and got their act together just a few weeks later to go on a run.
The Jets are off to a 1-2 start after dropping consecutive games following a season opening win in Detroit, and while some aspects of the team are clearer than others, there’s one approach regarding the team’s offense that clearly needs some tinkering. When it comes to spreading the ball around, it’s just not happening, meaning the Jets are wasting one of their biggest assets; a very deep receiving corps. Now with a bit of a break having 10 days off, this might be a good time to tinker with the team’s offensive attack.
Through three games, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown 93 passes with a shockingly high percentage directed at wide receiver Qunicy Enunwa, while virtually ignoring Jermaine Kearse, who had 65 receptions for 810 yards in 2017. Thus far, Enunwa has seen 29 passes come his way, or 31% of Darnold’s passes. Kearse has been targeted on just 8.6%.
Darnold's top five targets through 3 games (93 passes):
Quincy Enunwa: 29 (31.1%)
Terrelle Pryor: 14 (15%)
Robby Anderson: 10 (10.7%)
Jermaine Kearse: 8 (8.6%)
Bilal Powell: 9 (9.6%)
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) September 24, 2018
Even if you exclude Kearse due to missing week one and being limited since returning, there’s also Robby Anderson, whose value comes from being able to take the top off the defense. Anderson is being asked to work short stuff underneath, significantly limiting his impact. When Anderson caught a 41-yard TD pass from Sam Darnold in week 1, it game him more scores from 40 yards out or longer than any other receiver in the NFL dating back to last season (8). So far this season, Anderson has just 10 targets, with most of those being well inside of 40 yards.
Despite drawing the ire of some fans for inconsistent effort, Terrelle Pryor is second on the team with 14 targets, pulling in 8 passes for 158 yards, a pace that would put him at just over 800 yards for the season.
As Jets fans have seen over the past few years, some of the best stretches Gang Green’s offense has had has come with Bilial Powell being heavily involved as a receiver, yet he’s averaging just 3 targets per game.
If the Jets want to spread defenses out and keep them guessing, they’re going to have to do a better job of spreading the wealth and take advantage of the assets at their disposal. If Darnold keeps forcing the ball to Enunwa, teams will cheat that way and more interceptions will follow.