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The Jets Aren’t Throwing Downfield Much; Does It Matter?

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NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Here is an interesting chart on the percentage of deep passes quarterbacks in the NFL are attempting this season.

As you can see, Josh McCown is not throwing the ball down the field much.

The term “West Coast Offense” is drastically overused today, but it is clear the Jets passing game is based on short passes rather than stretching the field. That makes sense, particularly since McCown has not been a particularly proficient deep ball thrower in his career.

Many offenses based on West Coast principles depend upon high percentage short passes.

That means there aren’t many deep throws. It does not mean that big plays in the passing game are unimportant. An offense has to produce big completions to have success. Offenses based on the short pass just use a different method. Rather than gaining a lot of yardage through the air, the receivers are expected to produce big runs after catching short passes. You can have a big play passing attack even when your offense dinks and dunks.

That leads to the big question. We know the Jets aren’t throwing deep, but are they producing enough big plays in the passing game anyway?

To figure this out, I turned to the Pro Football Reference Play Index.

The Jets are lagging a bit behind in that category. The team is tied for 23rd in passing plays resulting in a gain of 15 yards or more. They have 17 through the first quarter of the season, running a little bit behind the league average of 21.

One of these came on the fake punt pass from Lachlan Edwards to Marcus Williams. We might throw that one out assessing the success of the passing game.

Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse are tied for the team lead with 4. Elijah McGuire has 2. Matt Forte, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Eric Tomlinson, ArDarius Stewart, Will Tye, and Lawrence Thomas have chipped in 1 apiece.

There are 46 players in the NFL with 5 or more so the Jets haven’t shown a lot of big-time playmaking in the passing game yet either.

Of course, these modest numbers exceed the utter doomsday expectations a lot of people had for the passing game.

It is also still early in the season so this bears watching as we get deeper into the year.