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Ice cold starts a cause for concern

NFL: London Games-New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On my way home from London yesterday I avoided most things Jets, I left the stadium disappointed, deflated and quite frankly, annoyed.

I knew this season was going to be difficult and I knew we wouldn’t be forcing our way into the playoffs, but my hope to see a legitimate offense is currently on life support.

As I woke up around 3am, my mind was whirring. I logged on this morning to write about something that has been bothering me for weeks now. Before I got started I decided to go through my standard post-Jets game routine, checking through all the reports from the game.

Fortunately, Connor Hughes at the Athletic had largely produced the article I wanted to put out in his post-game autopsy. If you’re an athletic subscriber then I really suggest checking out his article.

The Jets have not scored a single point on their opening possession in 5 games.

They have scored just one first-half touchdown all season.

They have scored just 13 first half-points in 5 games. That’s an average of 2.6 points per game in the first half. It will come as no surprise to hear that 2.6 points ranks the Jets dead last in the NFL, a huge 4 points behind the #31 ranked Detroit Lions (6.6).

The Jets have an average time of possession of just 30.33% in the first quarter this season, that’s significantly lower than the #31 ranked San Francisco 49’ers (41.16%).

My frustration comes with just how bad we’ve been on our first possession (no points) which is the scripted part of an NFL game.

All week the coaches break down the opposing teams defense and script the first few plays designed to perfectly exploit what they saw. Coach Saleh likes to say that the 3rd quarter is the adjustment period and the 4th quarter is a free-for-all so the first half should be where we see the coaches make their money.

It’s not all on coaching, let me just get that out there right now. If your QB can’t hit a simple short-yardage bubble then regardless of the play you call, you’re going to get yourself in trouble. However, the Jets run these plays repeatedly all week so either they can’t execute in games, or the coaches aren’t putting the players in the best spot to succeed. It’s one or the other.

The Jets rank 29th in terms of how frequently they throw the ball in the 1st quarter, 48% of the time in comparison to 65% over 4 quarters. There are two reasons for that, one is the Jets just can’t get their run game going and then really have been trying to establish it early with very little success, and the other is because the Jets get themselves in such a hole most weeks, they’re forced to throw the ball. The Jets lead the league in 4th quarter throws, throwing at a clip of 82% and running the ball on just 18%. If you look at the teams around them, you’ll see the Jaguars, Giants and other losing football teams.

I wanted to look at the stats to see if we were one-dimensional and predictable, which is the feeling I got in the stadium yesterday. In the first quarter of games, the Jets run the ball on 71% of first down plays, that’s 6 percentage points higher than the next team (Dallas at 65%). When you can’t get a push and the defense largely knows you’re going to be running on first down, you get yourselves into a 2nd down hole and that spirals. Mike LaFleur and the Jets need to add a little extra variety to start games, as right now it’s just not working.

Coach Saleh said that they now have the bye week to figure this out, and figure it out they must. If they continue to get themselves into big holes like the 20-3 scoreline we saw at half-time yesterday, it’s going to be an even longer season.