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NY Jets: How Focused Was the Passing Game Last Year on Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While the Jets had a successful passing game in 2016, it was one of the least diverse in the league. The team concentrated its targets heavily to its top two receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. In fact, I did a quick calculation by hand and found the Jets were one of only two teams to have over half of its targets go to its top two receivers.

Top 2
DEN 51.7
NYJ 50.5
PIT 48.6
ATL 48.5
KC 47.4
CIN 46.5
HOU 46.4
OAK 45.6
DET 44
ARI 43.7
CAR 43.7
JAX 42.3
CLE 40.6
TB 40.6
WAS 40.3
GB 40
MIA 40
NYG 40
PHI 38.3
BUF 37.8
IND 37.8
DAL 37.5
TEN 37
SEA 36.2
NO 35.7
MIN 34.4
LA 33.6
CHI 33.1
NE 33.1
SF 32.5
BAL 29.6
SD 29.2

To further the point, I took a look at how frequently each team targeted the fifth option in its passing game. The Jets tied for the fourth lowest percentage going to their fifth option, Chris Ivory.

BUF 10.8
CAR 10.6
DAL 10.2
CIN 9.9
MIA 9.7
SD 9.7
IND 9.4
GB 9.2
NYG 9.1
NO 9
CHI 8.8
NE 8.6
SEA 8.5
CLE 7.9
MIN 7.9
BAL 7.8
TB 7.7
OAK 7.6
JAX 7.6
WAS 7.6
TEN 7.6
LA 7.6
ATL 7.2
PHI 7.1
DET 6.8
KC 6.6
NYJ 6.1
SF 6.1
DEN 5.3

There can be many different reasons a team spreads or doesn't spread around its targets. For example, a team that suffers a lot of injuries at skill positions will probably have their targets more spread out.

In the Jets' case, I think the primary reason the targets were so concentrated is fairly obvious. Their top two receivers last year were very, very good. The receivers below them were very, very bad.

As we discussed in the offseason, things did start to turn near the end of the season as the Jets started spreading the ball out more on offense. Bilal Powell started to emerge, and Quincy Enunwa flashed a bit near the end of the season. This just so happened to coincide with the five game winning streak that saw Ryan Fitzpatrick playing some of the best ball of his career.

This is where the addition of Matt Forte and re-signing of Bilal Powell make sense. These guys are receiving threats out of the backfield. The Jets are also hoping Enunwa and Jace Amaro take steps forward. Maybe this can become the type of offense that spreads the ball around more evenly.