After a terrible offensive season, the Jets went out and spent money securing two of the biggest play-makers in free agency in Eric Decker and Chris Johnson. Most New York Jets fans believe that these two players will be our biggest difference makers entering the season. However, there is one player from our returning roster that might arguably have a bigger impact on the success of Geno Smith and our passing attack than these two. And that player is Jeremy Kerley.
From a statistical standpoint, none of Kerley's numbers will jump off the screen at you. He caught a moderate 43 passes last year and barely racked up over 500 yards receiving. He did miss 4 1/2 games due to an elbow injury. However, his impact on quarterback Geno Smith was shown looking at the stats.
Let's go in depth and take a look at Geno Smith's stats when Kerley is on and off the field:
Geno's stats when Kerley starts and finishes games (11 Games):
60.7%, 17 Total TDs, 12 INTs
Geno's stats when Kerley doesn't start and finish games (4 games)
40%, 0 TDs, 9 INTs
I did not include the New Orleans Saints game from this past season because Kerley left with an injury halfway through. As you can see though Kerley's impact on Geno was pretty huge last year. In addition, the Jets went 8-4 when Kerley touched the field and 0-4 when he did not.
Now you can take these numbers in a number of ways. Some might consider it a weird fluke. Others might overrate Kerley and call him a star. I'm gonna take a separate stance on the stats. I am a firm believer that wide receivers elevate quarterback play. When Geno Smith actually had a legit NFL receiver to throw to, he did not look too bad. With the additions of Chris Johnson, Eric Decker, Jace Amaro, and others, I expect Geno Smith to have a much better time throwing the football in year two.