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Chad Hansen Breakdown - Overlooked or Shut Down?

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Kansas City Chiefs v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

One of the young Jets seeing his stock rise in recent weeks has been the fourth-rounder out of Cal, Chad Hansen. Many thought the productive Pac-12 receiver was somewhat of a steal for the Jets in the spot they drafted him.

With Jeremy Kerley’s suspension and third-rounder ArDarius Stewart struggling to gain steam, Hansen has seen a spike in playing time. After not registering a catch in his first 8 appearances, Hansen caught 3 balls in the loss at Tampa Bay, and 2 more in the win against Kansas City, looking impressive in catching all of them and picking up first downs on 4 of the 5.

If you hadn’t noticed him before the last few weeks, you are forgiven, as he failed to register even a single target over the first nine weeks of the season. Now, it may seem that Hansen is just starting to show up on the map because of increased playing time, which is true to an extent. His four highest snap counts have all come in the past four games.

However, Hansen’s sheer lack of targets in the passing game relative to his playing time is actually quite incredible. Over that nine-game streak without registering a target, Hansen did play 43 offensive snaps. Over the last four games, collecting 8 official targets, he’s tallied 156 offensive snaps.

Overall this season, he’s collected just 8 targets in 199 offensive snaps, a rate of one target per 24.9 snaps. To reference how infrequent that is, consider that Lawrence Thomas (a fullback who most often comes in for run plays) has gotten the ball thrown his way more often, at a rate of once per 23.4 offensive snaps.

Even over the last four games, his rate is one target per 19.5 snaps, though he’s been the team’s #3 receiver for most of that time. Jeremy Kerley, who has been the #3 receiver when healthy, averaged one target about every 10 snaps.

Of course, Hansen’s low target rate is partially understandable, as Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have been playing very well recently, hogging the targets.

I’ll also acknowledge that simply looking at snap counts is an incomplete way to analyze a player, as the snap total doesn’t account for run plays, turnovers, sacks, etc, but it does put into perspective how inactive Hansen has been. It all raises the question: Is Chad Hansen getting overlooked by Josh McCown, getting few opportunities, or is he really not doing a good enough job of getting himself open?

From rewatching the Chiefs game, I think Hansen isn’t getting opportunities to have the ball thrown his way or work down the field. When he was on the field, I thought the Jets ran the ball at a high rate. They also had a lot of 1-2 read throws or designed screen passes. McCown very rarely looked Hansen’s way, who was often running very short routes over the middle of the field.

Below are two examples of a typical Hansen snap (#16, bottom of screen on both GIFs). He runs a short route, but is never an option to see the ball come his way. There were many instances of this.

This, by the way, is not a negative indictment on either McCown, who is rightfully feeding off of his best playmakers, or Hansen, who just isn’t getting a very diverse playbook yet.

Here is an example of impressive run blocking from Hansen (though against Darrelle Revis). I thought he was consistently willing and solid with his blocking. Check him out exploding into his block and finishing it on Darrelle Revis to allow Elijah McGuire to extend this run.

Here is Hansen’s first catch. He finds the soft spot in the zone, extends his position out a bit once McCown escapes the pocket, and immediately shows the awareness to dive forward for the marker. He gets a ball thrown his way and executes in a key spot.

Hansen’s second catch of the game. Yet again he finds the soft spot in the zone, adjusts for a scrambling McCown, and picks up a huge third down conversion.

Notice that like his first catch he again is lined up to the inside part of the field rather than outside of the numbers, where he was rarely involved in the pass game.

Hansen hasn’t gotten many opportunities to beat man-to-man coverage down the field and get looks, but he is still impressing in his limited opportunities. He seems to be at the very least a committed blocker in the run game, and capable of using his awareness to show up in key spots. Still, we can’t figure out much about Hansen’s long term potential until he becomes more consistently involved down the field. Perhaps the team isn’t confident in his ability to do that yet, but it’s encouraging to see him making some key plays. Always value progress, even if the current results are miles away from the end goal.

Poll

What will Chad Hansen’s Jets ceiling be?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Perennial Pro Bowler
    (79 votes)
  • 42%
    Quality starter
    (391 votes)
  • 29%
    Decent to above average starter
    (268 votes)
  • 18%
    Solid depth player
    (168 votes)
  • 1%
    Unproductive depth player
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Bust
    (2 votes)
919 votes total Vote Now