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How have the New York Jets offense and defense done relative to the rest of the league?

Are the analytics suggesting trouble ahead for the Jets?

Syndication: USA TODAY Danielle Parhizkaran / USA TODAY NETWORK

There is a theory within organizational psychology called tournament theory. Put forth by Lazear and Rosen in 1981, tournament theory broadly states success is not determined by one’s raw performance, but rather how well one does compared to their peers. In an example of two individuals:

  • Individual A scores an 80 out of 100 on a combination of assessments related to a promotion. All the other applicants score a maximum of 70, so Individual A gets the job.
  • Individual B scores an 80 out of 100 on a combination of assessments related to this same promotion just months later. This time, another applicant scores a 90, so Individual B does not get the job.

Basically, tournament theory puts forth that how well we’re doing is only important within the context of how others are doing. As we are now at Week 8 of the NFL season, I think the sample of games is large enough to start comparing how teams are doing on the aggregate to see which offenses and defenses are doing well.

For the New York Jets, the data does not seem to suggest that their offense or defense is really excelling compared to the competition [at least based on Expected Points Added (EPA)]. For their offense, it is among the league’s worst as reflected by their placement on the far left side of the plot. For their defense, it is surprisingly middle of the back as reflected by its placement in the vertical middle of the plot. Overall, the data suggests both the offense and defense will need to improve if the Jets hope to outperform the competition in the weeks (and the potential playoff weeks) to come en route to winning more games.