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Brandon Marshall: Mr. Third and Short

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Even though a number of their key offensive stats look similar, the Jets are scoring the ball more efficiently in 2015 than they did in 2014. A year ago, the Jets only averaged 1.53 points per drive. That was 25th in the league. This season, the Jets are up to 1.86 points per drive. That is 15th in the league. Yes, the Jets are actually on the top half of the league when it comes to scoring efficiency.

You can probably point to a number of key factors to explain the improvement. Turnovers giving the team better field position is one. I did notice another key, a big increase in efficiency throwing the ball on third and short. Last year, the Jets only converted 40% of their third downs with 5 or less yards to go when they threw. Through the first quarter of the 2015 season, they are coverting 58.8% of the time when they throw on third and less than 5.

Why is this? I'm sure you will not be surprised to find out Brandon Marshall might be the biggest difference. The Jets have 10 first downs so far throwing the ball on third and short. They have thrown to Marshall 9 times in these situations, and he has picked up a first down 6 times. He has also drawn 2 penalties. On the drives Marshall has extended, the Jets have scored 4 touchdowns and 1 field goal. That's over 7 points per game on drives Marshall extends.

This is something that sticks out to me because I think building an offense begins here. A team has to have something it can go to in key spots that it knows will succeed. Even if the defense knows it is coming and is trying to take it away, this thing needs to work. You start there, and you build off it. The success the Jets have with Marshall forces the defense to deploy multiple defenders to try and stop him. That gives guys like Eric Decker one on one matchups.

The Jets haven't had something they could count on in key spots in five years since the days of the dominant offensive line and runs behind Brandon Moore and Damien Woody. This is one of the hidden reasons behind their early season resurgence.