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NextGen Stats Suggests Jets O-Line Could be Further Along Than Expected


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George Fant

Not more than a couple of weeks ago we published a story suggesting that some of the Jets struggles on offense were due to the atrocious head coaching job done by former Jets head Adam Gase.  We pointed out the fact that running back Ty Johnson was grossly underused and pointed to the success he had when given the opportunity.

There wasn’t much left to say about how bad the Jets offense was handled in 2021, but then an interesting nugget popped up from NextGen stats that reinforced what many of us already knew in Gase being incompetent, but there’s a far bigger point to be taken from the data provided.

One metric tracked by NextGen stats is a running back’s “expected yards per carry”, which looks at the position of both the blockers and defenders while taking their speed into account.  This provides us with information that would be impossible to figure out while sitting on our couches, in the stadium or even watching all 22 footage.

So what did NextGen stats say about the Jets running backs expected yards per carry versus how they actually produced?

NextGen had the Jets ranked 9th in the NFL at an expected average yards per carry of 4.4, suggesting the run blocking wasn’t as bad as the box scores would suggest.  The reality wasn’t as kind however, as the Jets rushing attack was led by dinosaur running back Frank Gore, making the Jets actual yards per carry -0.39 yards over expected YPC, raking them 30th in the NFL as noted by NFL.com in projecting rookie running back performances:

The 2020 Jets’ offensive line helped drive a 4.4 average in expected yards per rush, which ranked ninth in the NFL. Jets ball carriers, however, earned -0.39 rushing yards over expected per attempt, which ranked third-worst. Drafting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and getting more snaps out of Mekhi Becton (who is presumably healthy) will add even more to this potentially positive O-line situation for the Jets.

To say the NFL’s worst offense had top 10 capability in any facet of the game seems bizarre, but in looking at the production of the backs behind Frank Gore on Adam Gase’s depth chart, it may not be all that far-fetched.

Over the course of the 2020 season, Gore was easily the worst runner on the roster as he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.  When Gore was injured and Gase was forced to look elsewhere, it was a different story.  Rookie runner LaMical Perine was only slightly better than Gore at 3.6 yards per carry, but veteran Josh Adams averaged 5.4 yards per carry along with Ty Johnson who came in at 4.7 yards per attempt.  Those aren’t numbers you would expect to see from your third and fourth running backs behind an offensive line that isn’t supposed to be able to open up any holes.

So while there’s still plenty of work to do at 1 Jets drive there is some data that suggests the offensive line isn’t quite as far off the rails as it appeared to be under Gase just one year ago.

The post NextGen Stats Suggests Jets O-Line Could be Further Along Than Expected appeared first on JetNation.com (NY Jets Blog & Forum).

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13 minutes ago, rangerous said:

Frank gore aside, over the course of the season the oline got to play as a unit and did do better.  I’m thinking that with a real training camp and barring so many injuries the oline is going to do pretty well. And if Wilson makes decisive and accurate throws we will be pleasantly surprised.

True, later in the season the line was playing better mostly due to the improvement of GVR. That also coincides with the usage of Johnson and Adams. 

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3 minutes ago, Jetsfan80 said:

A lot of you OL worriers are going to be awfully surprised to find out just how much of the problem last year was Sam Darnold, and not the OL itself.

Was this a top-flight unit that Darnold held back?  Absolutely not.  Acceptable as a unit?  Absolutely.  And we just added an upgrade at G.  

Zach Wilson will not be "running for his life" like so many Sam truthers suggested.  Maybe, just maybe, Wilson will be the kind of QB that isn't a slow processer and doesn't hold onto the ball for forever back there.

 

CC:  @jgb

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4 hours ago, sveusb said:

The Jets were tanking for a Quarterback last season. These stats give an idea of how this team could play if they were not tanking.

Also they had the worst QB in the league which may have had a little something to do with it 

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On 6/8/2021 at 4:48 PM, Jetsfan80 said:

A lot of you OL worriers are going to be awfully surprised to find out just how much of the problem last year was Sam Darnold, and not the OL itself.

Was this a top-flight unit that Darnold held back?  Absolutely not.  Acceptable as a unit?  Absolutely.  And we just added an upgrade at G.  

Zach Wilson will not be "running for his life" like so many Sam truthers suggested.  Maybe, just maybe, Wilson will be the kind of QB that isn't a slow processer and doesn't hold onto the ball for forever back there.

 

CC:  @jgb

And if Saleh / LaFleur are smart they'll make it easier on their rookie QB and give him easy / quick reads that get the ball into the playmakers' hands quickly. Plus a stronger / more effective running game won't go amiss.

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Fools gold. Improvement in what context... Anything is better than the past few years. I'm aware that Sam was a part of the problem with his slow decision making. Having said that, keep building the O-line. It may not be a first round priority anymore, but it isn't elite either. You don't buy a Ferrari then put low octane gas in it. You pamper that sh*t with Ultra high octane (that 4th octane up for those of us who have four levels of gas to choose from) and you do everything in your power to treat it like the prize it is. Good enough just isn't good enough. 

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1 hour ago, Embrace the Suck said:

Fools gold. Improvement in what context... Anything is better than the past few years. I'm aware that Sam was a part of the problem with his slow decision making. Having said that, keep building the O-line. It may not be a first round priority anymore, but it isn't elite either. You don't buy a Ferrari then put low octane gas in it. You pamper that sh*t with Ultra high octane (that 4th octane up for those of us who have four levels of gas to choose from) and you do everything in your power to treat it like the prize it is. Good enough just isn't good enough. 

Well Joe Douglas listened on that.  A # 11 pick and # 14 pick in back-to-back years, a mixed bag of FA signings (but at least he was making attempts to find upgrades, particularly with the McGovern signing) and he isn't done.  

You're 100 % correct that we all should want an elite line, not just a decent one.  

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3 hours ago, Jetsfan80 said:

Well Joe Douglas listened on that.  A # 11 pick and # 14 pick in back-to-back years, a mixed bag of FA signings (but at least he was making attempts to find upgrades, particularly with the McGovern signing) and he isn't done.  

You're 100 % correct that we all should want an elite line, not just a decent one.  

Without an elite line we can’t judge Zach Wilson

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Outside of Becton the OL was a cluster **** imo. I don’t think Sam had much to do with that.  He was running for his life and constantly put in terrible situations.  That RG spot needs someone to step up, it’s a problem.  Fant is meh. 
 

keep building that unit. 

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2 hours ago, David Harris said:

Outside of Becton the OL was a cluster **** imo. I don’t think Sam had much to do with that.  He was running for his life and constantly put in terrible situations.  

No, he actually was not, and the advanced numbers suggested that.  His time to throw was middle of the pack/slightly below average, and meanwhile Darnold's QB rating with time to throw was the worst in the league.  The far bigger problem was him holding onto the ball for far too long.  And the root cause of that is him being a slow processer. 

The OL looked more than serviceable in pass protection when Joe Flacco was under center.  And Flacco is a 35-year old statue.  Darnold's biggest strength is, supposedly, his ability to throw on the move.  So what gives there?

The OL was not great but it was not terrible or even bad.  It was below average.  Decent QB's can make do with below average.  Justin Herbert just put up arguably the best rookie season of any QB in NFL history behind the # 32 ranked Offensive Line.  

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5 minutes ago, Jetsfan80 said:

No, he actually was not, and the advanced numbers suggested that.  His time to throw was middle of the pack, and meanwhile Darnold's QB rating with time to throw was the worst in the league.  The far bigger problem was him holding onto the ball for far too long.  And the root cause of that is him being a slow processer. 

The OL looked more than serviceable in pass protection when Joe Flacco was under center.  And Flacco is a 35-year old statue.  Darnold's biggest strength is, supposedly, his ability to throw on the move.  So what gives there?

The OL was not great but it was not terrible or even bad.  It was below average.  Decent QB's can make do with below average.  Justin Herbert just put up arguably the best rookie season of any QB in NFL history behind the # 32 ranked Offensive Line.  

Alright, I hope you’re right.  Against your analytics I just have anecdotes, remembering slapping my forehead when seeing free runners waltz up the A gap as GVR doubled the NT time and time again. Some of that could be coaching, but yeah I liked Sam and maybe am still defending him. We’ll see what happens in Carolina. I think he’ll be a solid starting NFLQB. Hopefully Zach’s an upgrade.

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9 minutes ago, David Harris said:

Alright, I hope you’re right.  Against your analytics I just have anecdotes, remembering slapping my forehead when seeing free runners waltz up the A gap as GVR doubled the NT time and time again. Some of that could be coaching, but yeah I liked Sam and maybe am still defending him. We’ll see what happens in Carolina. I think he’ll be a solid starting NFLQB. Hopefully Zach’s an upgrade.

 

The OL certainly had issues.  But if Darnold could make a pre-snap read/adjustment at the line like decent QB's can from time to time, those situations would have been reduced.  Meanwhile, he had no ability to make up for those bad plays by making positive "bounce back" plays, even when he had time to throw.

Thus, you tend to remember only the bad moments and think the OL was worse than it was.

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we all think Sam Darnold had the worst line cause we watched every Jet game. but the rest of the league were running for there lifes too.

Josh Allen got blitzed 244 times in 16 games. Sam had 143 in 12.

Russ Wilson 206

Matt Ryan 204

Daniel Jones 200

Goff 185

Cousins 181

everyone was running for there lives. yet many had success. 

alot of us have SDS ( Sam Darnold Syndrome ). we think we need the best OL, the best WRs, or our QB wont be good. 

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1 hour ago, doitny said:

we all think Sam Darnold had the worst line cause we watched every Jet game. but the rest of the league were running for there lifes too.

Josh Allen got blitzed 244 times in 16 games. Sam had 143 in 12.

Russ Wilson 206

Matt Ryan 204

Daniel Jones 200

Goff 185

Cousins 181

everyone was running for there lives. yet many had success. 

alot of us have SDS ( Sam Darnold Syndrome ). we think we need the best OL, the best WRs, or our QB wont be good. 

This does nothing in telling us guys were under pressure.  If your offense is talented and well coached, they're going to pick up plenty of blitzes and the QB will sill have time to throw.  
 

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5 hours ago, Jetsfan80 said:

No, he actually was not, and the advanced numbers suggested that.  His time to throw was middle of the pack/slightly below average, and meanwhile Darnold's QB rating with time to throw was the worst in the league.  The far bigger problem was him holding onto the ball for far too long.  And the root cause of that is him being a slow processer. 

The OL looked more than serviceable in pass protection when Joe Flacco was under center.  And Flacco is a 35-year old statue.  Darnold's biggest strength is, supposedly, his ability to throw on the move.  So what gives there?

The OL was not great but it was not terrible or even bad.  It was below average.  Decent QB's can make do with below average.  Justin Herbert just put up arguably the best rookie season of any QB in NFL history behind the # 32 ranked Offensive Line.  

PFF’s worst ranked OL for 2020 was the Chargers.

If you’re making excuses for your FQB... you don’t have a FQB.

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10 hours ago, AFJF said:

This does nothing in telling us guys were under pressure.  If your offense is talented and well coached, they're going to pick up plenty of blitzes and the QB will sill have time to throw.  

Sam Darnold hasn't made a good pre-snap read in his life.  Even dating back to his days at USC.  He just snaps the ball and hopes for the best, with some decent plays coming thru improvisation but many others ending in disaster.

But that was Gase's fault too, I guess.

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On 6/8/2021 at 1:37 PM, sveusb said:

The Jets were tanking for a Quarterback last season. These stats give an idea of how this team could play if they were not tanking.

Gase wasn't tanking.  He was just incompetent.  Gase was trying to save his job and it was a key reason he gave the Jets rookies and young guys so few opportunities.  If was building towards the future and thought he'd be here a while he would have given more playing time to the younger guys.  JMHO.

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14 minutes ago, Jetsfan80 said:

Sam Darnold hasn't made a good pre-snap read in his life.  Even dating back to his days at USC.  He just snaps the ball and hopes for the best, with some decent plays coming thru improvisation but many others ending in disaster.

But that was Gase's fault too, I guess.

I'm not saying Darnold was good at all, but he was made worse by Adam Gase.  Sam Darnold showed some signs of progress and success under Jeremy Bates in a WCO/Shanahan type system during his rookie year.  Maybe that was Darnold's ceiling but I thought he was on a good path.  He was a Top 4 NFL QB in the month of December that year.  There's absolutely no way he should have gotten worse or regressed unless you made the roster worse (which the Jets did) and made the coaching worse (which the Jets did).  Your reads don't get worse, you decision-making typically doesn't get worse, etc. with more experience.  The debates about whether Darnold is a good, bad, starting caliber, backup caliber QB, etc. are over for the Jets.  That's now Carolina's problem.  But rigid-minded coaching that didn't adapt to the players who were here was a big problem, and not just for Sam as was premised in the OP here.

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On 6/8/2021 at 8:40 PM, jgb said:

Also they had the worst QB in the league which may have had a little something to do with it 

Well, if the worst QB in the league was influencing the running game, then the box should have been stacked.  At that point I would expect the line to improve on their 9th best expected yards per carry.

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2 hours ago, Jetsfan80 said:

Sam Darnold hasn't made a good pre-snap read in his life.  Even dating back to his days at USC.  He just snaps the ball and hopes for the best, with some decent plays coming thru improvisation but many others ending in disaster.

But that was Gase's fault too, I guess.

Did you mean to respond to what I said?  The thing about being blitzed doesn't' always tell us if a QB is under pressure?  

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20 hours ago, AFJF said:

This does nothing in telling us guys were under pressure.  If your offense is talented and well coached, they're going to pick up plenty of blitzes and the QB will sill have time to throw.  
 

what about sacks? Rush Wilson had 47 sacks with a great coach and team. Watson had 49 sacks and threw for almost 5k yards. sam had 35 sacks. i could go on and on.

 

how about our own team? Flacco had 7 sacks in 4 starts. thats 1.9 per game to sams 2.9 with the same of everything. 

a talented QB makes his teammates look good. 

 

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2 hours ago, doitny said:

what about sacks? Rush Wilson had 47 sacks with a great coach and team. Watson had 49 sacks and threw for almost 5k yards. sam had 35 sacks. i could go on and on.

 

how about our own team? Flacco had 7 sacks in 4 starts. thats 1.9 per game to sams 2.9 with the same of everything. 

a talented QB makes his teammates look good. 

 

Far from perfect but yes, Sacks would be a much better indicator.

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3 hours ago, doitny said:

what about sacks? Rush Wilson had 47 sacks with a great coach and team. Watson had 49 sacks and threw for almost 5k yards. sam had 35 sacks. i could go on and on.

 

how about our own team? Flacco had 7 sacks in 4 starts. thats 1.9 per game to sams 2.9 with the same of everything. 

a talented QB makes his teammates look good. 

 

"But the Texans only won 4 games! Watson sucks!"

The most amusing "defense" of Sam Darnold.

You can live with sacks and INTs if there is also good things to balance those out. All things being equal, I think we'd all take a QB who throws 30 TDS and 16 INTs over one who throws 18/9, despite the ratio being worse in the former case.

 

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On 6/9/2021 at 5:38 PM, Jetsfan80 said:

Well Joe Douglas listened on that.  A # 11 pick and # 14 pick in back-to-back years, a mixed bag of FA signings (but at least he was making attempts to find upgrades, particularly with the McGovern signing) and he isn't done.  

You're 100 % correct that we all should want an elite line, not just a decent one.  

Two 1sts, two 3rds, and a 4th spent the OL in the past 2 drafts. That's on top of 4 new veteran starter contracts from 2020-21 (two with top-10 $ for their respective positions at C and RT). 

We'll soon see whatever the results will be this year, but he's not been ignoring the position group. 

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