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Geno Smith's Sharing

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets added a pair of weapons to their passing arsenal over the offseason in Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith. The team is also hoping for a second year leap from Jace Amaro. On paper, it looks like the Jets have a deep and talented group of receiver in the passing game.

This led me to wonder how Geno Smith distributed his targets. What I did was take a look at what percentage of targets went to Jeff Cumberland, the fifth most targeted Jets player in the passing game last season and compared it with the fifth options in other offenses. What I found was Cumberland had the 7th highest percentage of targets among fifth options in the league*

Team Player Rate
Vikings Johnson 11.2
Bills Hogan 10.5
Cowboys Beasley 10.2
Eagles Sproles 10.1
Redskins Paul 9.5
Browns Gordon 9.3
Jets Cumberland 9.2
Seahawks Willson 8.8
Raiders McFadden 8.7
Dolphins Gibson 8.5
Rams Austin 8.5
Packers Quarless 8.5
Falcons Toilolo 8.5
Saints Thomas 8.3
Lions Riddick 8.2
Steelers Bryant 8
Cardinals Carlson 7.9
Chargers Oliver 7.8
Colts Allen 7.5
Patriots Amendola 7.2
Broncos Anderson 7.2
49ers Lloyd 7.1
Titans McCluster 7
Buccaneers Seferian-Jenkins 6.9
Jaguars Todman 6.8
Giants Cruz/Jennings 6.7
Panthers Brown 6.6
Bengals Hill 6.3
Chiefs Thomas 6.2
Ravens Aiken 5.7
Texans Graham 5.7
Bears Wilson 5.2

You might be thinking Geno did not play the entire season last year. What I did then was looked at games where Geno played start to finish. This eliminated the three games Michael Vick started and the two where he was benched. Cumberland had 8.9% of the targets then, which would still be 7th place.

Does this mean the Jets invested in targets because they know Geno spreads the ball around? That is one possible conclusion, but it is not clear this is correct. Did Geno spread the ball around because that is the type of passer he is, or did he spread it around because there were not enough receivers who could consistently beat coverage? Having a guy like Marshall around means that the top option is going to be open at a higher rate. Making Eric Decker the second option means number two will be open at a higher rate as well. There might be less of a need to go all the way down to number five.

This probably is more of a question than an answer at this point. It will be interesting to return to it and see the results once the season starts.

*These were eyeballed and hand-calculated from ESPN's team stats pages so forgive any possible errors.