New York Jets Passing Game Breakdown – Week 4

Joe Caporoso looks at the problems with the New York Jets passing game in week 4

Back with another look at the New York Jets passing game, which has been struggling as of late. Let’s take a look at some of the problems, which are more complex than just blaming one player, positional group or coach…


Geno Smith: 17/33, 209 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 1 lost fumble, 4 rushing yards.

Wide Receivers

  • Eric Decker: 51 snaps, 9 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Jeremy Kerley: 49 snaps, 3 targets, 1 reception, 3 yards
  • Greg Salas: 41 snaps, 5 targets, 2 receptions, 60 yards
  • David Nelson: 16 snaps, 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards
  • Walt Powell: 4 snaps
  • Saalim Hakim: 1 snap

Focus Player: Geno Smith 

Smith barely completed 50% of his passes in an erratic, disconcerting performance. He has basically regressed with each passing start this season, always a concerning trend for a young player. Let’s quickly roll through his incompletions and see where the problems were.

Incompletion 1 – A Smith throwaway in the redzone that preceded a Jets field goal. It didn’t help that Breno Giacomini was badly beat but Smith probably could have thrown this right now and hit Jace Amaro at the 5 yard line, hopefully in stride. Poor blocking from Giacomini but there was also some hesitancy from Smith here.

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Incompletion 2 – How not to run a screen by Chris Ivory. Miss your chip block. Fall over. Stand behind the defensive lineman. Yikes.

Not an incompletion but RUN GENO! (Here he dumped the ball off to Jace Amaro instead for a 6 yard gain on 3rd and 9).

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Incompletion 3 – Bad, high throw from Smith to Eric Decker on a short in-cut.

Incompletion 4 – Miscommunication with Jeremy Kerley. Smith thought Kerley was going to keep working to the outside, while Kerley sat down leading to an ugly looking play.

Incompletion 5 – A deep shot for Decker down the sideline. This was actually a pretty good throw and route from Decker, who just missed it. There probably should have been defensive pass interfence called here.

Incompletion 6 – Throws behind Eric Decker on an open slant route that could have been a big play before the half.

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Incompletion 7 – A drop by Eric Decker on the sideline. Tough catch but one he needs to make.

Incompletion 8 – Hail Mary attempt.

Incompletion 9 – Ovethrow in the flat to Chris Ivory.

Incompletion 10 – Tries to force it into Jeremy Kerley on a short crossing route, when Jeff Cumberland would have been a better option a few yards behind him.

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Incompletion 11 – Smith throws it up to a covered Decker on a stop and go route. I don’t have a problem with giving your top guy a chance down here and he almost makes the acrobatic catch. Two plays later these two hook up for a touchdown.

Incompletion 12 – Smith throws the ball away after Brian Winters is beat to the inside, flushing him out of the pocket.

Incompeltion 13 – GUH! If Geno makes a better throw here or Ivory can make this catch (blame goes to both of them), this is probably a touchdown. Instead, it is a drop, followed by a false start, followed by an interception.

Incompletion 14 – Interception. Smith took a shot as he delivered the ball but he badly overthrew a relatively well covered curl route. Just take the sack.

Incompletion 15 – Smith goes to Ivory in the flat before Decker even finishes his curl route. Ivory drops the ball (hard to say if he gets the first down even if he catches it).

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As you can see, it was an ugly performance for Smith. Yes, there were a few times his offensive line let him down or there were dropped passes but on the whole, Smith takes the biggest chunk of the blame for the Jets passing game struggles against Detroit. He can’t miss throws like the slant route to Decker before the half, he needs to throw an easier to catch pass to Ivory in the flats when he has 50 yards of open field in front of him, and he has to be more patient at times.

Wide Receiver Evaluations

Eric Decker – Still not 100% healthy and it sounds like he aggravated his injury this week in practice. Decker still produced against Detroit but it felt like it could have been a bigger day. Smith missed him twice on short passes that could have been big plays and he dropped a sideline pass that should have went for 15 yards. The interception thrown his way wasn’t on him at all.

Greg Salas – Two straight games where he has made big plays. Salas was able to shake free on a pair of crossing routes and make big plays after the catch. After an ugly performance in Green Bay, he has been playing much more confident and it is showing in his route running and he is producing after the catch. He is line for more playing time with David Nelson likely out this Sunday.

Jeremy Kerley – The Lions focused on taking Kerley away, occasionally bracketing him in the slot and the Jets did a relatively poor job of moving him around the formation to help get him some better looks. A rare quiet day for #11, with only three targets and no designed wide receiver screens.

Week 5 Thoughts

The Jets did some shuffling with their receiver depth chart throughout the week. Jalen Saunders was released. Let’s be clear, it is always an awful look to cut a 4th rounder four games into his career. I’d have to imagine there is something else going on besides him just muffing a punt (off the field issues?). Regardless, bad job by John Idzik when it comes to that pick. Internally, the Jets are likely hoping that Walter Powell can be what they hoped Saunders would be. Powell was a sixth round pick of the Cardinals this year and ironically Saunders has now landed on the Cardinals practice squad. Idzik nailed his 4th round pick last year (trading it for Chris Ivory) and will now be hoping that Dakota Dozier and Shaq Evans develop in 2015 and beyond to validate this year’s 4th round selections.

The team added TJ Graham, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. The 2012 3rd round pick is a a burner who had 54 receptions, 683 yards, 3 touchdowns and seven catches of 25 yards or more in two seasons. He struggles with his route running and catching the football consistently (STEPHEN HILL SYNDROME) but can hopefully be a viable deep threat on the back end of the roster. It sounds like he is going to be active this week. Chris Owusu was also signed, another speedster that caught a touchdown this season for the Tampa Bay Bucs against the Carolina Panthers. He was a UDFA in 2012 that ran a 4.36 forty.

It sounds like David Nelson is going to be out this week, so look for a bump in playing time for Greg Salas. Eric Decker is likely to be less than 100% but who knows how his snap count will shake out after the past two weeks. Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro should see more targets. Amaro is trending upward right now, coming off his best performance of his young career with 5 receptions on 5 targets for 58 yards and some nice YAC ability flexed.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I think MM deserves some criticism for calling so many passing plays with Ivory as the target. Even if Ivory has improved as a receiver, he’s clearly still not good at it. Undoubtedly it is a good idea to throw him a pass occasionally to keep defenses honest, but not more than once a game. On the same note, it seems like CJ is getting way too many plays where he is being asked to run inside.

    Idzik certainly deserves criticism for cutting a 4th round pick after 4 games. Either it is a bad pick or they gave up too soon. It also seems absurd to me that Hakim, W Powell, Graham, & Owusu are all on the 53 man roster. That is way too many crappy WRs/ mediocres (at best) STs players.

    As far as Geno, it really seems as if he has no ability to “elevate” the play of his teammates & needs everyone to execute their roles perfectly in order for there to be any chance of success for the play to be successful.

  • John Hunter


    I think WE’RE asking too much for a 2nd year 2nd round pick undeveloped raw to pro-style offense to elevate veteran garbage WRs.

    If Geno was an elite QB, than yes, we should have those expectations, but he’s far from elite. So lets continue to aim the blame where it belongs…..John Idzik failed to sign legit depth at the WR position (cosigning what you stated above). Outside of Decker, he did nothing but bring in leftover bums, hoping he’ll catch a lightening in a bottle.

    Idzik had the resources of MM telling him D Jax is not the cancer being painted by the Eagles, and he’ll be a good fit for this roster & Geno, and he had Vick to cosign with that same support. How much different would this offense look with D-Jax bringing the deep threat this team doesn’t have?

    This was the biggest of the examples where Idzik fumbled in the offseason at helping this team, and helping his young QB.

  • Mike

    On the animated GIF you have of Ivory’s GUH play – is he stopping / running backwards? I’d like to see what happened just before that. Is this just Geno and Ivory not being on the same page – i.e. Geno put the ball where he wanted to, but he thought Ivory would keep running? If so, who would you blame?

  • maybe right about Geno not being to ‘elevate’ those around him. I think it’s too early to tell though. I mean, how’s Tom Brady doing trying to elevate Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. How was he elevating Brandon Tate? When you have below average players, ti’s hard enough for HoFers to elevate their play, let alone a second year player.

    Joe, I know you like Salas and I hope he steps up. However, odds are he’ll be ‘exposed’ when he’s forced to play more snaps. He’s been on 5 teams, and has had 2 stints with both NYJ and Philly. Heck, if they are going to give guys second chances, maybe they’ll bring Hill back.

  • John Hunter

    @ Mike

    It’s on Geno. As the QB, you must know the tendencies of your targets. Ivory is a throw where I’m at target, not a where you think I should be. Had Geno took a little off his throw, it would’ve been an easier pass for Ivory to handle…….blame goes to Geno IMO.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    JH – when did MM endorse bringing in DJax? Regardless, with his history of uneven effort & gang ties, he’s definitely a risky player to sign long term.

    The problem with Geno here is he **never** seems to elevate the play of his teammates. Things typically get ugly when there is any breakdown in the play as Geno can’t seem to adjust. Is this because he is still struggling to understand the offense & over-thinking things, or because he has poor instincts? Considering his own propensity for mistakes is high, this is a bad combo.

  • John Hunter

    Please don’t take this the wrong way…..but chillax, He’s a 2nd yr pro, who’s been learning on the fly with basically garbage to throw to since day 1. Garbage in terms of a unit. With a solid run game just making an appearance this season (the 1st qtr of it). If he responds well tomorrow (very realistic btw), it could spark the IT factor that’s within, and have US look’n dumbfounded with your mouth open, wondering what the hell just happen…….we’ll soon find out.

    I’m not the keep or find the link type of guy (too lazy), but I’m so confident in my statement, I’m sure someone reading can, and will show you. Or with a little effort, you’ll find it.
    So are you admitting you’re falling head first for the BS narrative told about D jax? Screw the FACT he’s a dangerous WR that has no concrete evidence he’s ever been gang related? C’mon JJ, don’t be like that…..act like you know what this offense would look like with a D Jax on the other side of Decker, and YOU”RE BOY Kerley……

    Sigh….remind me what’s your great ideas for this team to improve again? Because you also don’t have an ounce of faith or hope in Vick….you’re damn sure done and probably never believed in Geno……we damned if we did signed D Jax, and apparently we’re damned if we don’t…..I mean, I can’t win with you… pleas remind me what you’re master plan is……..oh that’s right….whatever Idzik does & decides.


  • Jeremiah Johnson

    JH – it seems like you are making up “facts” to support your narrative again. MM never publicly endorsed bringing in DJax. Furthermore:

    “in an interview with ESPN the Magazine this week, Jackson reiterated that he’s never been in a gang, but he admitted that he still associates with gang members.

    From the article:

    Here is what DeSean Jackson will say about the gang rumors: Does he know people in gangs? Yes. Does he associate with “certain people” from time to time? Yes. Is he in a gang himself? No, nor has he ever been.”

    You seem to be getting awfully upset for someone telling someone else to “CHILLAX” rofl

    Get a grip, Geno isn’t great & has played poorly much more often than he has been decent.

  • John Hunter

    LMAO! It seems like I’m making up facts? Why, because it flushes your opinion down the toilet? My boys over at GGN did a great job following what was being said about D Jax from MM & Vick. You’re just throwing BS out there, and to say you wouldn’t touch D Jax based on that interview speaks for itself. RIDICULOUS.

    He admitted he knows people in a gang……SO WHAT!!! Look Bro, let’s move on from the D Jax subject, and agree to disagree. Thank you for expressing where you stand on the issue.

    Awfully upset is way off……..trippin on you is more accurate. It’s all good my sparring partner, that’s how we get down.

    You should know by now my grip on Geno is pretty reasonable and legit. As you’ve read, I’m all in with him being benched. However, that doesn’t mean his career is done. If that’s your angle, which it is, you get a grip. And make sure you don’t run and hide when he plays well. Either way, all I want is better QB play, if it comes from Vick so be it. If Geno begins to prove the haters wrong, so be it.

    You rather live in the gloom & doomed.

    Go Jets!