New York Jets “Passing Game” Breakdown – Week 5

Joe Caporoso breaks down the New York Jets “passing game” in week 5 against the San Diego Chargers

It is stretch to call anything that the New York Jets did this past Sunday, a “passing game.” Let’s dig through the muck and see if we can pull any key findings out and then make a few suggestions on how the team can improve going forward. WARNING: What are you about to see may be graphic and difficult for a normal functioning NFL fan to tolerate…


  • Geno Smith: 4/12, 27 yards, 1 INT, 1 carry, 3 yards
  • Mike Vick: 8/19, 47 yards, 2 carries, 14 yards

Wide Receivers

  • Jeremy Kerley: 52 snaps, 6 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards
  • Greg Salas: 43 snaps, 7 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards
  • David Nelson: 27 snaps, 4 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards
  • TJ Graham: 18 snaps

The Disaster Scene

The Geno Problems

This is on a 1st and 10 on the Jets first drive of the game. Smith has two receivers open right here, right now. Throw the football to either the short crossing pattern for a 8-10 yard gain or try to thread in the seam route for a big gain. Smith held the ball two seconds too long here and was flushed out of the pocket. On this play, he has open receivers and the offensive line is doing a sufficient job.


Also on the Jets first drive, this time on a 3rd and 3. Is frustrating that a 3rd and 3 call involves a vertical route to a gimpy David Nelson? Yes. But, Nelson beat his man and did his job. Geno just misses the throw. You can criticize Nelson’s speed but if Smith drops this in over his shoulder like he should, this is a huge play and 3rd down conversion on the Jets opening drive.

Later in the first half, Smith has Jeremy Kerley open for a potential first down on 3rd and long. However, he stays locked on to TJ Graham on the outside for the entire play and is getting ready to let the ball go to him here, despite him being covered. Smith overthrows him on his out cut and the Jets punt.


The Vick Problems

This is on Mike Vick’s first drive. The Jets have just forced a three and out and actually have somewhat decent field position. On a 3rd and long, Vick is going to have Kerley breaking open across the middle but despite being under no pressure, Vick is already letting it fly to a covered Greg Salas. Beyond that, why not just take off for the first down?


In the 4th quarter, the Jets have a chance to at least get some points on the board. Vick has Kerley open for an easy touchdown but instead forces it to Jeff Cumberland, which leads to the pass nearly being intercepted.


The Pass Protection

It was inconsistent all day. The book on the Jets? Blitz them in the A or B gap all day long. It is hard to assign blame here. It could be on Smith for not changing the protection. It could be on Ivory for running by a free blitzer. It could be on Nick Mangold for not adjusting the protection. Either way, this needs to be cleaned up.

Once again, San Diego beats the Jets protection up the middle. I give some blame here to Marty Mornhinweg. Why? Repeatedly, throughout this game and this season, the Jets will motion their running back out wide to the same side of the formation as their bunch (see the image below the GIF). The running back always runs a clear out vertical route. This happens so frequently that the defensive back barely acknowledges it. Whenever a defense sees this and the Jets have an empty backfield, they are going to send a blitzer right up the middle as the Jets are a man down in protection.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 6.35.29 PM

Wide Receiver

The Jets go four vertical here and nobody is open unless Smith wants to try the hole shot on the opposite side of the field (not advisable). However, why not take off up the middle? Easier said than done but there has been a direct correlation between Smith playing better when he has more rushing attempts and rushing yards.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 5.27.35 PM

Here Smith has absolutely no chance. Everybody is covered and the pass protection crumbles around him. I again blame Mornhinweg here. Why? The Jets send John Conner, TJ Graham, David Nelson, Chris Ivory and Jeff Cumberland out into routes, meanwhile Jace Amaro, Zach Sudfeld, Jeremy Kerley and Chris Johnson sit on the bench. Bad personnel usage,

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 5.34.17 PM

Conclusions/Moving Forward

This game was a disaster scene. Smith was a trainwreck and Vick wasn’t much better, looking completely unprepared to play and sluggish. The Jets receivers were inconsistent at best and missed the few times they did break open. Jeff Cumberland played horrible and I don’t throw that word around lightly. I’m not sure if he is hurt but he cannot continue to play 50+ snaps per game. For a little perspective, Cumberland played 52 snaps, was targeted 6 times and had 2 receptions for 12 yards. Jace Amaro played 27 snaps, was targeted 3 times and had 3 receptions for 19 yards. Play Amaro more. You aren’t missing anything with blocking because Cumberland is poor there also.

I touched on this earlier in the week but the Jets need Smith to run the football more. Two simple stats: The Jets are 6-1 when Smith runs for 30 yards or more. Smith’s average QB rating is 83 when he runs for 30 yards or more. The coaching staff needs to be in his ear about this and they need to get him outside the pocket more frequently as well.

Beyond that, a healthy Eric Decker (fingers crossed) will help everything on the outside in a big way. Smith’s been substantially more productive with Decker out there and he’s played well when on the field. Chris Johnson needs to be much less involved in the running game and much more involved in the passing game, as somebody who catches screens and in the slot.

If Decker is back healthy, the Jets should rest David Nelson a week or two and let him get healthy for the second half of the season. Nelson has become an easy whipping boy for Jets fans this year and he hasn’t played well but he can productive if 100% healthy and playing alongside Decker and Kerley. Let’s not forget the way he produced in December of last season with Smith. Greg Salas can function competently as the third option at receiver behind Decker and Kerley.

Finally, Graham didn’t look all that awful in his debut. As a role player at 10-12 snaps per game, he may able to contribute on a few deep routes.

On to next week…

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

  • Keith

    It is easy to look from a bird’s eye view at some slight openings on receivers. Put it at field level and several of those “openings” are not seen through lineman.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Watched it from the rear angle as well, they were open and their was no issues with line of sight. Just poor quarterbacking on those particular plays.

  • John Hunter

    I applaud you Joe, keep up the optimism, that’s why they pay you the BIG BUCK$.

    It seems like wishful thinking to me though. I’m not setting myself up to have an ounce of hope on Nelson. I no longer trust MM to do the right thing with CJ.

    The O line wasn’t part of your conclusion, but plays a major factor in how Geno or Vick will perform. Geno is horrible under pressure (REALITY) Vick lost his ability to escape as well, he’s no better. With Winters playing like he’s been playing, I don’t expect anything different. IMO, Geno has too much he’s dealing with in his head to focus. It’s bad enough he hasn’t really developed as much as we all hoped, but now he has fans getting under his skin. He escaped the MetLife pressure last week. Well it’s back, and back with fire. He added more fuel with his latest debacle, and I simply don’t believe he’s capable of dealing with the pressure. We can’t even introduce him before the game without boos coming from all over the stadium.

    Here’s to me being proved dead wrong (CHEERS).

  • Joe Caporoso

    John H – I have to ask how does an article that starts with ” It is stretch to call anything that the New York Jets did this past Sunday, a “passing game.” Let’s dig through the muck and see if we can pull any key findings out and then make a few suggestions on how the team can improve going forward. WARNING: What are you about to see may be graphic and difficult for a normal functioning NFL fan to tolerate…” and that calls our starting QB a “trainwreck” considered optimistic??? haha.

    Just because I’m not going to write the same FIRE THIS, FIRE THAT article every single day that most of the beat is writing, doesn’t mean I’m being optimistic, it just means I’d rather spend more time talking football than rehashing the blame game.

    …And the fact that he can’t even be introduced in his home stadium in his 21st career game (when he is coming off a .500 season and still has a winning record at home) says more about NYJ fans than him. (And yes he’s bad, doesn’t merit booing the kid in intros…that’s just being a piss poor fan).

  • Joe Caporoso

    Also last point – Winters gets a ton of crap but he’s actually improved from last year and played better than Colon. If Aboushi comes off the bench, my money is on it being for Colon, not Winters.

  • John Hunter

    I’m so in the dumps right now, even Rich Cimini sounds optimistic. There’s no need to beat your chest to me, I love forum you’ve created, and mainly because the tone and context of the writers.

    As for the 2014 season, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. From the time we signed John Idzik, and the results of his first season, I was pleased, hyped, and excited about 14’…12 picks Plenty of Cap No Sanchez & Ivory……..and then John Idzik fell asleep at the wheel…BAM!!!
    Rex is about to get fired. Geno is Sanchez reincarnated. The WR Corp just might be worst than 13′ while CB definitely is. Facing 1-6, and to make matters THE worst, I hope we get a top 3 pick already. That’s equivalent to Fireman Ed walking out.
    So pardon me for coming off a little to left, it wasn’t meant to do harm.

  • John Hunter


  • “Also last point – Winters gets a ton of crap but he’s actually improved from last year and played better than Colon. If Aboushi comes off the bench, my money is on it being for Colon, not Winters.”

    Winters was awful last year and his PFF rankings are terrible this year. I’m guessing here, but I bet he wouldn’t start on 75% of the other teams in the league. So, knowing that, telling me he’s better than Colon, just adds more fuel to the ‘Idzik six’ bonfire. It’s comforting knowing we have Aboushi, he of less than 20 NFL plays, on the bench.

  • I Know protection is a problem but it looks like he missing open players too.

  • I believe the “Geno needs to run concept”, if carried out, could make this offense competitive even if the other offensive problems remain the same. It should also be an easy tactic to execute, I think. In preseason and game 1 Geno was running more, as he did at the end of last season. It moved the chains and sparked the offense. Anyway, because it’s such an obvious no-brainer why is “Geno running” not happening? Is it Marty putting on the brakes, is Geno being stubborn or does Geno just lack the instinct of when to take off? (it’s known that Geno takes great pride in imagining himself as a pure pocket passer). Anyway, the yards are there if they/he chooses to take them …. drive sustaining yards.

  • John

    Could not agree more w/ your comment re: the forum Joe has created on this site. I’m a long suffering Jets fan who lives in CA. I don’t have many people to talk to about the Jets out here. I have to have Sunday Ticket just to watch my team. For years I have struggled to find a place where there was intelligent and constructive conversation re: the Jets. If I had to continue reading Cimini’s barely contained contempt filled articles I would likely start bleeding from every orifice. We may get down on our team especially after losses like that last one but we have writers here that calmly and concisely show what is wrong and at times even offer potential fixes. Other websites and writers fixes are as Joe said: FIRE EVERYONE!

    And for the most part the people who populate this site are intelligent and level-headed. As level-headed as we can be. There isn’t the usual amount of hand-wringing and unconstructive criticism of the Jets like “I hope Mark Sanchez dies of superherpes”( I actually read that once on another site). I found this site at the end of last season and I am so glad I did. Otherwise, I’d have nothing to occupy my time except my fantasy football teams which may turn out like the Jets if I’m not careful(damn you AJ Green).

  • Joe Caporoso

    Thanks dreadpiratesteve!

  • No, thank YOU Joe.

  • joeydefiant

    YYYIt really cannot be much fun being the OC of the NY Jets. The offense has been practically ignored every draft and offseason with the bare minimum added every year.
    Lets face it the offense will not be good until resources are used to bring quality players in. Decker and Ivory were a good start but are only 2 people. Without a QB and WRs capable of taking advanage of current NFL rules (the back shoulder and deep double move are almost unstoppable when executed) this team will continue to be below average. You need a large outside WR. The difference in performance when Decker is healthy is staggering. Someone like Benjamin or Evans opposite him and the offense will look like something. Kelvin Benjamin would have made so much more of an impact on this team than Calvin Pryor it isnt even funny. When the Jets finally wake up and make personnel moves like its 2014 and not 1974 we will see impovements. Taking a big hitting safety who wasnt used consistently in coverage in the first round is ridiculous in todays NFL. Tackle, QB, WR and pass rushing defensive lineman should be the only positions drafted by rebuilding teams in round 1. No other position has enough impact or salary cost to be considered unless you think you team is a few pieces away from making a superbowl run. CB can be considered as well but it seems quality can always be found in the middle rounds. The Falcons are in the bottom at every position except QB and WR and have a good shot to beat any team every sunday. These old GMs are still clinging to these outdated concepts when NFL rules have been changed to make the game a high scoring pitch and catch between stong armed QB and tall strong WR. Anyone watching football can see this. PI penalties and the lack of offensive PI penalties make it so you have to be a stubborn old fool to not be attempting to take advantage of it.

  • joeydefiant

    You know who are doing it right? The Jaguars thats who. Every year picking the top WRs and QBs in the draft until they find the right ones. Its generally considered a rule of thumb that QBs and WRs hit thei stride in year 3. Once you have that in place you have 2 years to fill out the rest of the roster. The Jets are doing it backwards. We have the D Line in place but those big guys have a average 5 year lifespan in the NFL before all that weight kills their backs and knees. By the time the QB and WRs are in place and in their prime this DLine will be done.
    The Jags missed with gabbert and blackmon so now went with bortles, robinson and lee. The Jaguars will make a deep playoff run before the Jets do. Watch.

  • PFF on OLines…out today… 21. New York Jets (26th)
    PB: 13th, RB: 20th, PEN: 32nd

    Stud: It’s good to see Nick Mangold reaching the heights of yesteryear after a 2013 below his usual high standards. He’s back to being the top-ranked center in the league.

    Dud: The more he plays the more you think maybe the Jets should look at another option. Brian Winters had a fantastic opening to the season but it’s all gone downhill since then, especially in pass protection.

    Summary: Not the kind of line that makes life easier on a quarterback. The guards are the big problem area with it precisely zero surprise that a team with Willie Colon would have the worst penalty ranking of any team. But they could, Mangold exempt, do with playing better if they want to take advantage of what is still a very imposing defense.

    Most penalized OL in football..Joe, question, at this point last year you were all over Hill, calling him a bust…and you were right…Winters is right there with him, no?

    BTW, you think Vick prepared during pre-season to ‘push’ Geno?

    Preparation is on the coaches (we can see why Marty has never gotten another look), specifically Rex. However, bringing this guy in here, and not using that $ at WR or CB…that’s on #IDZIOT

  • John C

    Geno’s at the movies, and Vick isn’t practicing seriously. More examples of Rex’s failure to provide leadership, or foster a sense of responsibility in his players. I do like Rex, but he must go at the end of the year. If San Fran parts with Harbaugh, and he will come to the Jets, they should jump at the chance. If Simms was active on Sunday, I would have put him in after Vick’s second possession. I’ve never seen anyone look more apathetic playing the game of football, than did Vick when he went in.

  • Joe Caporoso

    If Harbaugh did shake free – I’d offer him whatever he wanted because if NYJ doesn’t, MIA will and Harbaugh is worth every cent.

  • Joe,
    Agreed on Harbaugh. He could do marvelous things with our existing front 7. Our LB’s are nowhere near as talented a SF but our D Line is vastly superior to theirs. I understand the frustration that most fans have with our anemic offense but I would still air on the side of a defensively minded coach when you consider the young and talented defensive personel we currently have in place.

    Side note: if I hear one more Jets fan say that Calvin Pryor looks like a bust already I may stroke out. It is the 5th game for gods sake. The kids has shown some flashes and safety is a difficult position to adjust to in the NFL. Especially safety in a scheme like Rex’s. To quote a certain QB from my home town “R-E-L-A-X”!