Staying ahead of schedule on offense is important. When a team puts itself into long yardage situations, life becomes much easier for the opposing defense. The playbook shrinks dramatically because the offense has to throw the ball down the field.
Conversely, life becomes much easier for the defense. Play calling and choose personnel become easier when the offense is backed up. The defense can get more aggressive knowing it doesn’t need to account for the run.
I wanted to see how the Jets fared at staying on schedule so I used Pro Football Reference’s Play Index to look at some key measures.
Football Outsiders has a stat called Success Rate. They measure it on all downs, but for the purposes of this article I decided to look only at first and ten situations because these were the easiest to measure with the tools at my disposal. For a first down play to be a success, a team needs to get 45% of the yardage to gain another first down. On first and ten situations, that means at least 5 yards.
Here is how NFL teams rate at getting at least 5 yards on first and ten this season.
I’ll admit I was not expecting to see the Jets rate so poorly.
To see whether this was a fluke, I next decided to take a look at average distance on third down plays. How long a team has to go on a third down is a good measure to tell you whether the offense is on schedule. Third down is the end of the schedule.
Again, it is pretty surprising to see the Jets rate so poorly. They have the second longest third downs in the league. When their drives stall, they seem to really stall.
This offense hasn’t been great, but it is has been more productive than these numbers would indicate. Is this a sign the offense is playing a little over its head and due to fall back to earth? Is it a sign these numbers are arguably interesting but not particularly useful?
It’s tough to say. Maybe the last six games will tell us something.