New York Jets Passing Game Breakdown – Week 3 (Redzone Edition)

Joe Caporoso breaks down the New York Jets passing game in week 3, particularly focusing on their struggles in the redzone

Welcome back to our weekly New York Jets passing game breakdown, primarily focusing on the quarterback and receivers. Let us know any plays you want to see going forward down in the comment section or on Twitter! Today we’ll look at what went wrong for the New York Jets in the redzone against the Chicago Bears…


Geno Smith: 26/43 (60%), 316 yards, 1 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 3 carries, 20 yards.

Wide Receivers

  • Jeremy Kerley: 65 snaps, 11 targets, 7 receptions, 81 yards, 1 touchdown
  • David Nelson: 74 snaps, 7 targets, 3 receptions, 15 yards
  • Greg Salas: 31 snaps, 3 targets, 2 receptions, 56 yards
  • Eric Decker: 12 snaps, 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards
  • Jalen Saunders: 6 snaps
  • Saalim Hakim: 3 snaps

Focus Area: Redzone Struggles

Drive 1

1st and 10 from the 16 yard line – Shotgun handoff to Chris Ivory for a 1 yard gain. This was blown up because D’Brickashaw Ferguson badly whiffed on Jon Bostic who made the play.

2nd and 9 from the 15 yard line – 13 yard sack. The blame here could go in either direction. Willie Colon left his guy in what seemed to be a miscommunication, directly leading to the sack or you can say Geno Smith held the ball too long and should have tried to hit David Nelson over the middle. It is was a tight window but not an unreasonable throw. This is a close call on who gets more blame. Either way, poor execution.

3rd and 22 from the 28 yard line – 3 yard tight end screen to Jeff Cumberland. A safe call to keep the upcoming field goal attempt as close as possible. This drive was killed on the play before.

Drive 2

1st and 10 from the 15 yard line – Chris Ivory handoff for a 2 yard gain. Nick Mangold was beat inside, forcing Ivory to bounce outside, where Jeremy Kerley didn’t seal the edge on his crack block.

2nd and 8 from the 13 yard line – 4 yard completion to Jeff Cumberland. A poor read by Geno Smith, who had two better options than Cumberland here. Eric Decker, on the same route on the other side of the field, as the had more room to turn up field or Jace Amaro in the flat out of the backfield, who could have caught the ball and had a chance to create YAC as well.

3rd and 4 from the 9 yard line – Incomplete to Jeff Cumberland. Two routes directly on top of each other the 6 yard line, with another route in the vicinity and Breno Giacomini was beat off the ball…not pretty.

Drive 3

3rd and 5 from the 19 yard line – Success! Hey, look it is Geno Smith’s best throw of the night and a beautifully executed route by Jeremy Kerley.

Drive 4

1st and 10 from the 18 yard line – Interception. Terrible decision and throw by Geno Smith (we will still call his screen pass for an INT, his worst throw of the night). Check it down to the 20 yard line or throw the ball away. By the time Smith released this, David Nelson was basically double covered and throw was not in a spot to give him a chance to fight for the ball…and it was first down…making it all that worse.

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Drive 5

1st and 10 from the 11 yard line – Chris Ivory 1 yard line. The Jets interior OL did not get a great push here and the Bears blitzed off edge, creating this mess for Ivory upon receiving the ball.

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2nd and 9 from 10 yard line – A well executed screen pass to Ivory for a 8 yard gain. There were good blocks from Willie Colon and Jeremy Kerley in particular, along with nice patience from Smith and good vision by Ivory.

3rd and 1 from 2 yard line  – Just watch Willie Colon and Breno Giacomini for everything you need to know about this play. It was blown up from the snap.

Drive 6

1st and 10 from the 20 yard line – 1 yard swing pass to Bilal Powell. Not the wrong read by Smith, as Chicago did a nice job getting under the outside hitch routes the Jets called. The pass wasn’t great, as Powell had to spin around for it, limiting his chance for YAC.

2nd and 9 from the 19 yard line – Defensive holding. A silly play by Jon Bostic as he had help on coverage with Jeff Cumberland over the middle. Geno also could have looked to Greg Salas on the outside, who was open on a hitch route.

1st and 10 from the 14 yard line – Incomplete to Greg Salas. This was the one. This was where the Jets should have tied the game. Jeremy Kerley is wide open down the seam and Geno misses him. A good call and a good release Kerley unfortunately went to waste.

2nd and 10 from the 14 yard line – 5 yard completion to Bilal Powell. Nothing really wrong here. Powell is open underneath and Geno takes the simple completion. He could have gambled a bit for the slot receiver on the near side at the goal line but that is a tough throw and you are hanging your receiver out to dry, although that is sometimes necessary in the redzone.

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3rd and 5 from the 9 yard line – Incomplete. A somewhat shaky playcall. The Jets have David Nelson run a hitch route slightly past the first down marker at the 4 yard line. Chicago’s corner squats on it, leaving no window for a completion. Basically the Jets were playing for a first down, not a touchdown and Chicago seemed to know it. This was a spot where it hurt the Jets not to have Eric Decker, as the Bears corner would likely have played further off if somebody with his redzone reputation was out there.

4th and 5 from the 9 yard line – Incomplete. A failed Z fade to Jeremy Kerley. The pass wasn’t great, as it carried Kerley out of the endzone, although some can fairly debate there was defensive pass interference. It is weird that the Jets went for the first down on third down and the endzone on 4th down. Hindsight is 20/20 but how about a draw or read option on 3rd down and then you could potentially be set up with a 4th and 1 or 4th and 2 situation?

Ultimately, the Jets had their spot to tie the game a few plays earlier and missed it.

Quick player evaluations…

Geno Smith – Worst game of the season for him. The 316 yards and 60% completion is encouraging without Decker but he had two awful turnovers, for which he takes full blame and missed a potential game tying touchdown. This was a disappointing road bump in his development.

Jeremy Kerley – Played terrific. When your top receiver goes down, you can’t ask for more than 7 catches, 81 yards and a touchdown from the next guy up. He remains criminally under-appreciated by most fans and people who observe the team. He ran great routes, made tough catches, and created after the catch. Kerley is a good NFL receiver. Not a good “slot” receiver. Not a good “possession” receiver. He is just a good overall receiver, there is no qualifier needed in front of it.

David Nelson – His worst game of the season. Nelson played fine for what he was asked to do in the first two weeks. This week, he oddly fumbled 2 of his 3 receptions out of bounds, didn’t create after the catch and wasn’t as clean with his routes as he normally is.

Greg Salas – A really nice bounceback game from last week. Salas made a HUGE play on the Jets final drive, with a great route, catch and run to nearly set up the game tying TD. He also hauled in a nice sideline grab. His routes were more confident and he looked much more comfortable than he did in Green Bay,

Eric Decker – Was clearly hurt and not himself. Let’s hope he rests until he is truly 100%.

Saalim Hakim/Jalen Saunders –Too small of a sample to do much evaluating. They were basically exclusively asked to run vertical or clear out routes.

For further discussion of Geno Smith and the Jets passing game going forward, check out the following videos I recorded for with Eric Allen, Chris Nimbley and David Vill:

On Geno Smith

On WR/TE situation

On Jets 1-2 start

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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports