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Did Santonio Holmes Slow Down the New York Jets Offensively in 2010?

I have seen it suggested a few places that the Jets would be a better offense without Santonio Holmes. I find that kind of tough to believe since he was Mark Sanchez's favorite target and the most productive receiver on the team once he entered the lineup last year. He also won three straight games with receptions and had that clutch touchdown catch in the Playoffs against the Patriots and another that put the Jets back in the game against the Steelers.

It is worth noting that the Jets scored 26.5 points per game the first four weeks of the year without Holmes in the lineup. They only scored 21.75 per game in the others.

There are a lot of things to suggest that Holmes was not responsible for this effect. I would first refer you to the Week 4 game against the Bills, where the Jets scored 38. They ran for 273 yards and passed for only 171. It wasn't the passing game that carried them that day. If you average the three other games Holmes missed, you get 22.66 points per game.

Let's go a bit deeper, though. Let's take a look at the games where the passing game really struggled. Could it have been that Mark Sanchez was too focused on Holmes? Did Santonio disrupt chemistry? There were four games Holmes played where either the Jets scored under 10 points, Mark Sanchez completed under 50% of his passes, or both. They were the game against the Vikings, the game against the Packers, the road game against the Patriots, and the home game against the Dolphins. Was Sanchez forcing Holmes the ball at the offense's expense?

The numbers indicate this was not the case. In those four games, Holmes was targeted on 22.6% of Sanchez passes. Those were Sanchez's worst games. In the other games with Holmes, Santonio was the target of 23.2% of Sanchez's throws. Mark's bad games were not a case of him forcing too much to Holmes or bad chemistry. It's just the opposite. Sanchez looked in Santonio's direction less when he was playing poorly.

The numbers get even more convincing, though. The one game of those four where Santonio led the team in targets was the 45-3 game in New England. He was not to blame for that awful offensive showing, though. He was one of the few guys who came to play that night and put up 7 catches for 72 yards.

In the Minnesota, Green Bay, and Miami games, Holmes was targeted on only 19.0% of throws, even less than when Sanchez was playing well. If there was a receiver he was locked onto too much, it might have been Jerricho Cotchery, who was targeted on 27.8% of passes in those three games and only 11.81% in all other games.

I do not think Cotchery is the problem. The evidence I see supports another theory on what went wrong, we'll get to that. What I can say is that Holmes' effect on chemistry was not the reason the Jets underperformed offensively in those games. I feel very confident in saying that.