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Should the Jets Run It More?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

This question might seem a bit odd. The Jets do run the ball plenty. They rank 23rd in the league in pass-run ratio, throwing it only 55.94% of the time and have the 12th most team rushing attempts in the league with 67. Recent history suggests they might not be running the ball enough, though.

Consider the rates at which the seven teams that have made the Playoffs with a rookie quarterback have thrown the ball.

2008 Falcons 2008 Ravens 2009 Jets 2011 Bengals 2012 Colts 2012 Redskins 2012 Seahawks
45.83 44.44 40.78 56.11 60.70 48.28 45.76

The Jets are at 55.94%. The average is 48.84%. The median is 45.83. While the Jets are mixing in the run better than most teams, they are still throwing it at a far greater rate than most recent successful teams with a rookie quarterback.

How about passing attempts?

Matt Ryan Joe Flacco Mark Sanchez Andy Dalton Andrew Luck Robert Griffin III Russell Wilson
434 428 364 516 627 393 393

The average is 450. The median is 428. Geno Smith is currently on pace to throw it 507 times. You might correctly note that Sanchez only started 15 games his rookie year due to injury, but that does little to change the math even if you account for the game he missed.

This isn't necessarily to say run, run, run is a guaranteed method of success with rookie quarterbacks. In many of these cases, the teams ran the ball so much because they had top notch run games. This is still a way to protect the quarterback. Teams have been successful not merely running the ball more than average like the Jets have this year. They have been successful running it to an extreme where it is the first and second option.

The approach has obvious benefits. Defenses that are going to look to throw wild looks rookies have never seen before are limited against teams that run it so frequently. They can't get too exotic up front. They can't fire upfield in the pass rush out of respect for the run game. They have to dedicate their extra defenders to the box, creating potential mismatches in the passing game and limiting the ability to disguise coverages. Reducing the number of throws also can preserve a rookie quarterback who is used to his season ending in early December. The rookie listed above who threw the most passes, Andrew Luck, saw his stats fall apart in December of his rookie year.

It probably isn't an accident that Geno's best and only turnover free game with the Jets was one in Atlanta where he only had to throw it 20 times. I wish I had hopes for this becoming more regular, but the news probably is not great on that front. Marty Mornhinweg is what he is. Geno probably will not see his workload reduced, and the Jets will just have to hope for the best.