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.

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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.

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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,

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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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports