The Jets’ first “big” move at a skill position during free agency was signing former Washington Redskins slot receiver Jamison Crowder to a 3 year 28.5 million dollar deal ($9.5 million per year) with $17 million in guaranteed money.
This seemed a little high when the signing was first reported, but it ended up being right in line with the other top slot receiver options on the open maret such as Golden Tate ($9.375 million per year to the Giants) and Adam Humphries ($9 million per year to the Titans).
Part of the initial sticker shock with Crowder was the belief in some circles that the receiver missing 8 out of a possible 64 games in the last 4 years (7 of which were last season) would lead to a drop in his market value.
But that is not how the situation played out at all, which makes sense when you consider the fact that retired Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Steven Stoller recently appeared on Play Like A Jet with Scott Mason and confirmed that Crowder’s injuries were nothing to be concerned about.
Looking at Adam Gase’s system and the way he used Albert Wilson, it became obvious that the Jets needed a true yards after catch slot receiver in order to properly execute what the Jets’ new head coach wanted to do on offense.
Gase needed somebody with the ability to run with the ball on screens, pick up yards on end arounds/sweeps, and slice up the underneath coverage, all of which Crowder is fully capable of doing.
And while it is true that Quincy Enunwa is capable of generating yards after the catch, it is unfortunately undeniable that he does not have the route running ability and explosion to consistently separate underneath, which is a big part of what made Crowder’s signing necessary.
In addition, there are two other major reasons adding Crowder to the Jets’ receiving corps was a wise move:
- Based on the heavy use of screens in Gase’s system, it is good to have two options so defenses can’t key in on any specific player to limit the offensive attack.
- As much as all Jets fans love Enunwa, the long-tenured member of the Jets is often injured, and when he is not in the lineup, the teams has no other viable “YAC” options. Look no further than last season to see how things typically play out when Enunwa is out, as the team was forced to use receivers like Robby Anderson and Andre Roberts in “YAC” situations and the results were not very good.
Still all of this said, given that Golden Tate and Adam Humphries were also available, you may be wondering: Did the Jets sign the right free agent wide receiver?
That is an interesting question, because Tate is a “YAC” machine and Humphries is a very shifty route runner, both of which are qualities Adam Gase covets in his receivers.
But it is also precisely why Crowder was the best possible choice for Gase’s offense.
What do I mean?
Well, after watch Crowder’s film, what stood out to me is the fact that among these three receivers, Tate is indeed the best in the “YAC” category and Humphries is the best route runner.
However, Crowder is the only one of the three who is highly skilled in both areas, which is EXACTLY what Gase was looking for.
In fact, I’ll admit, Crowder surprised me in that he is far better at beating cornerbacks deep with effective stems, route manipulation, good hand fighting, and quick burst to cross their faces than I had previously realized.
Quite frankly, the ex-Redskin has far more tools in his arsenal than I ever gave him credit for.
The Jets still have plenty of work to do with this offense, particularly on the offensive line and in terms of building overall depth.
But in looking at the skill positions that the Jets will have to work with in 11 personnel – which WILL be their base offense – having Crowder, Enunwa, Anderson, Herndon and BELL will undoubtedly make Adam Gase and Sam Darnold’s lives infinitely easier.
Last year Darnold was forced to work with a terrible offensive coordinator while facing top defenses like the Bears/Vikings etc…..
He did this with players like Jermaine Kearse, Trenton Cannon, and Andre Roberts playing a significant number of snaps.
Pretty safe to say this year the QB is going to have a much higher quality supporting cast.
Now let’s look at Crowder’s strengths and weaknesses before getting into his film.
- Route running
- Drops hips into breaks
- Plays over toes
- Gets hips out of breaks fast
- Explosive off line
- Punt return experience
- Creates false steps from CB’s
- Sells deep stem
- Attacks leverage
- Peek technique
- Good recognition of coverage
- Willing (not super effective) blocker
- Attempts to hold line
- Stacks CB’s
- Fights for extra yardage
- Sets up running lanes well
- Uses drag foot in routes
- Management of speed in routes
- Lateral quickness
- Variety of moves in routes including power skips, crossovers, get even technique, stabs, head fakes, hesitations, bam steps, stacked bam steps, stair steps, single and double move releases, speed releases, swims, swipes, chops, foot fires, rocker steps, pressure stems and jerk stems.
- Top end speed
- Could work to eat up for space on releases
- Needs to work more aggressively back towards ball
- Too often is a “body catcher”
- Inconsistency hands
- Lack of strength makes it hard for him to break arm tackles and hold line in route running
- Can struggle with strong/aggressive press corners
- Doesn’t have a large catch radius
- Won’t catch many balls outside of his frame
- Going to be difficult to create separation through lean at the top of stems
Crowder explodes off the line as he stems towards the DB in man, attacking his leverage to make him feel uncomfortable. As the DB flips his hips outside to run vertically with Crowder. Crowder plants hard and crosses the DB’s face and throws his right arm over. 41 yard reception.
Crowder the field side slot (on bottom) shows the willingness and fight to maintain his block of the CB. Yes the 2nd play is about how Crowder is a willing blocker, not always the best but good to see the willingness.
Skins run a drag and follow concept underneath from a tight trips set. Crowder hops outside to make room for the drag. Runs a decent route giving the head fake/stab outside, would like to see him eat up more cushion and more aggressive hands. Length will hurt on balls like this.
Crowder in the slot (on bottom) runs a curl. Notice how he alters his stem towards the DB making him open his hips and start to run vertically, along with the stop steps exploding towards the CB. Would like to see Crowder attack to ball though (sorry for lag in video).
Crowder #2 (on top) in the tight stack vs an off man defender in this cover 1 look. Crowder initially stems inside but then breaks it back outside. As the the CB starts to play overtop, Crowder jabs towards him with a head fake. DB opens, Crowder is open but Cousins misses him.
Crowder (on top) runs a whip route vs a man defender as the Vikings run cover 0. Crowder sells vertically for 2 steps, 3rd step with right foot drops his weight and burst inside. Looks for the ball making the CB play it like its a short in. Crowder again sinks/explodes outwards.
Redskins run a Mills concept to the top of the screen out of a 2×2 gun set vs a soft cov 3. Crowder (top slot) runs vertically and as he is breaking he uses a peek technique (looking outside to hold DB if he were matching or in man). Crowder gets out of break fast then gets YAC.
Crowder vs man coverage. CB is playing soft press. Crowder stems him inside, gives him the head fake/stab outside. Then uses a club-arm over/swim to clear the outside arm (nice space release). Once he gets past the stacks vertically, peek technique then breaks on the corner.
Just showing some versatility. Have shown that Crowder can win underneath, intermediate and vertically. He will also be uses on sweep, end arounds and screens. Crowder motions (bottom slot) takes the handoff on the Jet sweep and jukes the almost Jets OLB Anthony Barr.
If there is one area of Crowders route running that he struggles with its his ability to get off press. Here in the bottom slot vs a soft shoe press. Uses “get even” teq off of the line but doesn’t eat up space afterwords. Uses the cross chop to get outside but doesn’t create separation.
Crowder is on the field side in a WR stack (not on LOS) vs a jambo cov. Crowder stems inside getting the CB to shuffle laterally inside. Crowder hits a jab/head fake inside then cuts back outside. The CB reaches/Crowder chops that arm creating the lack of balance. Snap outside at the top of the route.
Crowder breaks inward on a drag/inn from the right side of the field. As crowder catches the ball he alters his path as he is going straight into the LB with a hard plant off of the right foot. Picking up some extra YAC. Awareness + COD ability.
Bad defense from the Giants overall. Crowder runs a corner route from the slot and uses a rocker step as he breaks outwards. Crowder sees that Cousins is in trouble, checks the zone defender and drifts into the soft spot of the zone for a TD.
Crowder beats this CB BADLY on this play as the Giants are in cov 1 robber. Crowder uses a one step release with the head fake/stab outside to get the CB to jump outside the breaks vertically. At the top of the route uses a hard stop step/ peek tech/rocker step to burn the cb.
Crowder (#2 on bottom tight slot formation) vs cover 2 man. The inside DB either plays this as poorly as possible or blew the defense but this is just about Crowders route. Crowder initially stems outside, uses a single move power skip to break. Quick out of the break here.
Crowder #2 in slot formation (boundary side) runs a stick route. Does a good job of getting out of his route through contact and then adjusting to the ball that Cousins led too far outside. Nice hands to haul this ball in.
Crowder (on top in slot) has to corner route of this sail concept vs Chris Harris in man cov Harris is playing in off man coverage with inside leverage. Crowder gives a power skip before breaking hard vertically. Then uses a stacked bam step with a peek technique to get open.
Crowder in the slot on the bottom of the screen. Loves to use skips and foot fire techniques to beat his man (broncos in cov 3). Crowder skips off of the line to close ground but the CB sinks. Crowder then continues to close ground, then uses foot fire to freeze the CB. Easy TD after that point.
3×1 gun set. Crowder in the slot up top vs a man defender in this cover 1 defense. Crowder gives Harris a hesitation but Harris still gets his right hand onto Crowder. Crowder gets his left hand on the shoulder and uses the “push-by” technique to run the whip route and get open.
Crowder on top in the slot. Runs a outward breaking 9 route. Crowder releases off of the line attacking the DBs outside leverage. As Crowder gets closer he gives a head fake and stab inside to freeze the DB for a split second. Then cross chops to clear the CB’s arm.
Like the way that Crowder uses his eyes during his routes. Releases inside, keeps his eyes ahead/on the CB at he runs upfield. Breaks with a bam step off of his right foot and is ready to take the hit from Dix who is floating over the middle. Dix is pretty soft on this play ()
Another really good route from Crowder (point man in WR stack on bottom). Crowder uses a get even technique off the line giving himself a two way go, uses a cross chop as the CB is leaning to clear his body. Then stacks the CB and uses a stacked bam step with a peek tech.
Crowder (top of screen in slot) runs a short inn route vs Tampa 2 zone with a wall defender underneath. Crowder breaks inward, then quickly changes his path to avoid the wall defender. Crowder sits in the soft spot of the zone, gets the reception then picks up some YAC.
Final play of the review. Crowder runs a stem-corner route from the slot. Crowder drives inside getting the CB to open inside, then drops his hips into a stab/head fake inside with his chest over toes. Then breaks outward beating the CB. Would like to see more sideline awareness.