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Did Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse unlock Josh McCown’s deep ball in 2017?

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Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After posting the highest passer rating for a Jets quarterback with eight or more starts since Chad Pennington in 2002, there are quite a few positive things that can be truly stated regarding McCown’s 2017 campaign in green. However, perhaps no aspect of his game last season deserves to be more unanimously lauded than his surprisingly amazing deep ball.

McCown tossed a total of 12 “deep” (as classified by play-by-play charting) touchdowns in 2017; tied with Carson Wentz for the third most in the league behind Russell Wilson (14) and Alex Smith (13). Throwing those 12 scores on just 61 deep attempts, he converted 20% of his deep attempts into touchdowns, by far the highest rate of any quarterback with at least 10 deep attempts.

McCown combined with Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse to revive the deep passing attack of a franchise that has long lacked a relevant one. Anderson’s six 20+ yard scores were more than the Jets had as a team in 2016 (5), and helped bring their 2017 team total to 11. That’s the highest total the Jets have posted since 1998 (13). In 13 of the 18 seasons in between, the Jets as a team failed to exceed Robby’s 2017 total of six 20+ yard scores in the passing game. Kearse added four 20+ yard scores, three of them coming deep.

While both McCown and the receivers were both legitimately great in this area by the eye test, one of the major factors that stood out to me while researching this data was that McCown has been an inept deep thrower for most of his career. McCown threw 10 deep right touchdowns in 2017, six to Anderson, three to Kearse. Over the previous fifteen seasons in his career, he threw a grand total of 6.

As you can see, while playing with Kearse and Anderson in 2017, McCown elevated himself from a below average deep passer to an absolute flamethrower down the field. This was especially true on the right side of the field, where Robby Anderson primarily operated and McCown threw 9 of his 12 deep TDs. McCown’s deep production jump was even more substantially stark on that specific side compared to overall.

Perhaps the ability of Anderson and Kearse to get open deep was the primary reason for McCown’s outburst last season? What do you think? Who was most responsible for reviving the deep ball at MetLife Stadium last year?


Who was primarily responsible for the Jets’ terrific downfield production in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    All credit to the receivers
    (18 votes)
  • 46%
    More so the receivers, but McCown deserves credit as well
    (198 votes)
  • 42%
    An equal blend of McCown and the receivers
    (179 votes)
  • 4%
    More so McCown, but the receivers deserve credit as well
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    All credit to McCown
    (7 votes)
423 votes total Vote Now