Over the past two weeks, the New York Jets run game has struggled, generating the below output over teach of the last two games:
- Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16: 66 yards on 20 carries (3.3 YPC)
- Against the Detroit Lions in Week 15: 50 years on 22 carries (2.3 YPC)
While this struggle has (rightfully) drawn the ire of fans, it has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff either. Yesterday, Head Coach Robert Saleh provided some context around these struggles.
#Jets HC Robert Saleh said defenses have been stacking the box & doing everything they can to stop the run — basically daring the Jets to throw.— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) December 28, 2022
"You have to earn the right to back them off."
It is hard to not read this quote as an indictment of former starting quarterback Zach Wilson given that the last 2 games coincided with his return to the starting lineup and an increased inability for the Jets to run the ball. Indeed, in the three games prior to Zach’s return, the Jets run game was a bit more respectable. In support, the Jets rushing game generated the below output in the three games preceding Zach’s return, which were quarterbacked by Mike White:
- Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15: 76 yards on 22 carries (3.5 YPC)
- Against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14: 120 yards on 24 carries (5.0 YPC)
- Against the Chicago Bears in Week 13: 158 yards on 32 carries (4.9 YPC)
While it is difficult to pin the entirety of the running game on the play of the QB, there does seem to be some evidence the Jets run game struggles more when Zach Wilson plays than when Mike White does (at least of late).
Additionally, this information may be especially useful for anyone who remains in playoff contention in any fantasy football leagues, many of which are in ‘championship week.’ More specifically, the splits for Jets Running Back Zonovan Knight are quite stark based on the Jets starting QB. Accordingly, pairing the return of Mike White with the Jets matchup this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks may allow Zonovan Knight to provide some value to fantasy football teams this week.
Zonovan Knight averages 12.6 more Fantasy Points per Game when Mike White is his QB.— Joe Orrico (@NoExpertFF) December 28, 2022
Knight plays the Seahawks this week who allow the third most Fantasy Points per game to opposing RBs.
So what do you think? Will the Jets be able to run the ball on Sunday now that White has returned, or is this merely an example of correlation rather than causation?