During the 2018 offseason, I ran a few pieces highlighting the route type variety showcased by Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Jermaine Kearse in their respective most recent seasons.
It was a fun series to work on, and I’ve decided to run it back here in 2019.
Today, we’ll start with a look at the polarizing Quincy Enunwa.
In his return season, Enunwa started off flaming hot, but he finished the year on a frigidly cold stretch.
Over the first three games of the season, Enunwa averaged 5.7 receptions per game for 70.7 yards. He collected a total of 14 first downs over that period, which ranked 7th in the NFL over that span.
Over the final thirteen weeks of the season, Enunwa appeared in only 8 of 13 games, and in those contests averaged only 2.6 receptions and 29.6 yards per game. His total of 8 first downs over the final fourteen weeks of the season tied him for 199th in the league.
Altogether, Enunwa compiled only 38 catches for 449 yards and one touchdown, falling well short of the 58/857/4 line he posted in 2016.
Enunwa’s efficiency also dipped. His yards per target average dropped from a solid 8.16 in 2016 to a paltry 6.60 in 2018. His first down rate dipped from 35% to 32%. Enunwa also placed 83rd of 84 qualified receivers in DVOA this past season, though he did rank only 63rd back in 2016.
In spite of his production free fall, the Jets felt comfortable extending Enunwa and making him a part of their future.
So, what went wrong in Enunwa’s down year? Let’s take a look at his production in 2018 broken down by route type.
Here is a look at the route types I charted. Obviously, route concepts can be broken down much more specifically than this and are not this simplistic in an NFL playbook, but this grouping was a good way to have a solidly accurate representation for just about every route run.
Let’s start off by taking a look at which route types Enunwa saw the most targets on.
As I’ll get into more later on, Enunwa’s target variety in 2018 was dramatically different than what he saw come his way in his breakout 2016.
Enunwa saw an overwhelming 18 screen targets - twice as more as any other variety and making up 26% of his overall target count.
*Of course, in this series we are only charting Enunwa’s route types on the targets he saw - we’re not including his route diet on snaps in which he didn’t attract a pass. For example, Enunwa might have a low number of targets on digs, but maybe the dig route was his most-called route, and he just didn’t see the ball often when he ran them.
Let’s get into Enunwa’s productivity. Here is a look at his total yardage and yards per target by route type.
To Enunwa’s credit, he did a solid job with his heavy diet of screens. He averaged 7.8 yards per screen pass, a huge improvement over the 4.8 average I charted him for in 2016.
Finally, let’s take a look at Enunwa’s first down production by route.
In 2016, I charted Enunwa for picking up 4+ total first downs on five different route varieties. This season, he only reached that mark on one type - that one of course being the screen.
Shockingly, Enunwa made only one reception on a go or post route all year, a huge departure from the 16 catches he made on those routes back in 2016.
I also tracked a few other production splits for Enunwa - left side vs. right side, inside vs. outside, and on the line vs. off the line.
Here’s a look at his production broken up by those splits:
Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a huge difference in Enunwa’s production on any of those charts, but the largest was his outside versus inside splits. Enunwa averaged nearly a full yard per target more and had a first down rate about 4% higher on his targets lined up outside versus inside. It correlates with what I found when reviewing his 2016 season, when he also posted some of his best numbers outside.
Here are some of my primary takeaways:
- Jeremy Bates used Enunwa completely differently than Chan Gailey used him in 2016. Here’s Enunwa’s 2016 target chart side-by-side with his 2018 one (my taste in colors has changed!):
The downfield game was a non-factor for Enunwa this year. Injuries might have played a part, as Enunwa was very unproductive on his limited downfield targets as he failed to beat defenders to the spot, but I still think Jeremy Bates didn’t feature Enunwa deep enough. Enunwa caught 16 of 31 go/post routes in 2016 for 426 yards and 15 first downs, 2 of them touchdowns. That is downright spectacular downfield production - and he did it with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty at QB.
In 2018, Enunwa caught only 1 of 10 go/posts for 41 yards and one first down.
29.5% of Enunwa’s 2016 targets were go/posts, compared to 14.7% this past year.
- Bates forcefed Enunwa too many screens instead of getting creative with how he got the ball to #81 underneath. 9 of Enunwa’s 105 targets in 2016 were screens (8.5%), 18 of his 68 in 2018 were screens (26.5%).
To Bates’ credit, Enunwa absolutely dominated on screens over the first few games of the year, and it was a nice way to help settle in a rookie Sam Darnold, but that play became gradually less effective as the year went on. Defenses expected it all day as edge defenders deflected attempts and corners were a step ahead of the play. Bates didn’t adjust and kept running uncreative screens with disadvantageous blocking numbers. This heavy diet of screens also might have contributed to Enunwa’s struggles with injuries this year.
- Chan Gailey did a much better job finding ways to get Enunwa the ball in space creatively. Enunwa racked up 8 first downs out of 21 targets on either flat or drag route types in 2016. Quincy’s 15 catches on those routes made up 25.8% of his reception total. In Bates’ offense, Enunwa only caught 5 balls on those route types, making up just 13.2% of his catches, and he accumulated a measly two first downs on nine targets.
Here is a look at Enunwa’s total production for each of the route types I charted.
I’d attribute Enunwa’s down season in 2018 to a combination of both poor usage and Enunwa’s own faults. I do think Jeremy Bates used him poorly. The now-former Jets OC did not get Enunwa nearly enough downfield looks and gradually became too predictable with the way he schemed up underneath touches for him.
Still, Enunwa did perform at a much lower level individually this season than he did in 2016. He wasn’t winning downfield this season with nearly the authority that he was back then, falling short on most 50/50 balls after winning them with astounding consistency in the past. He failed to create himself much separation whenever he had to run routes beyond a few yards. If you take screens out of the picture, Enunwa picked up a first down on only 30% of his targets. Bates used him poorly, yes, but it’s not ideal that outside of manufactured touches Enunwa was producing only about 28 yards per game. This is a player that is poised to be one of the top 30 highest-paid players at his position this year - both the team and fans should expect a lot more out of him.
Nevertheless, Enunwa is a physically gifted player who has shown fleeting signs of potential greatness when he’s been healthy. Maybe injuries were to blame for Enunwa’s cliff dive after the first few weeks. I’m interested to see how Adam Gase uses him this year. Gase loved to run wide receiver screens in Miami. How much will he feature Enunwa on those plays?
The Jets absolutely should continue to try and get Enunwa the ball on those designed screen plays - he’s elite with the ball in his hands - but I would like to see the ratio of targets for Enunwa shift closer to where it was under Gailey. Enunwa is a head-first, grind-it-out runner who loves contact. It makes him injury prone. He could stand to try and play a bit safer, but the team should attempt to protect him a bit by lessening his total number of potentially dangerous underneath touches, and convert some of those screens into more plays in the flat and dragging over the middle.
And of course, get this man the deep throws he has proven he deserves to see.
I would like to see them get closer to the Gailey distribution model and further from the Bates one. Lesser volume and more balanced underneath, and more volume downfield.
Enunwa is a very talented player with unique versatility. Obviously the Jets think highly of him and have big plans for him this year. Hopefully he can put together a fully healthy season. It will be fun to see how Adam Gase utilizes him and if Enunwa can get back to the promising heights he reached three years ago. We all know the Jets could use every sliver of help they can get offensively - what better place to find it than right there in-house?
Did Jeremy Bates use Quincy Enunwa poorly in 2018?
This poll is closed
Yes, very poorly
Yes, somewhat poorly
He did a decent job
No, he did a good job with Enunwa
No, he did a very good job with Enunwa