The New York Jets walked into 2013 in desperate need of a new public relations official. A short list of the Jets PR nightmare of the past twelve months include trading Darelle Revis, dozens of internal leaks, the infamous butt fumble and an inexcusable contract for their former franchise QB.
Analysts predicted the Jets 30th-ranked offense to be even worse in 2013. The proposition of starting rookie QB Geno Smith or turnover-prone Mark Sanchez with the same set of skill players to the terrible offense was alarming. Yet, quietly the Jets rank 10th in total offensive yards this year.
New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and rookie quarterback Geno Smith have crafted an explosive offense. The Jets rank 3rd in time of possession and have run more plays on offense than Chip Kelly’s Eagles or Sean Payton’s Saints (only Baltimore and New England have run more). The Jets also are one of only three teams to be top 10 in total offense and total defense.
A Match Made In Heaven
Mornhinweg has a reputation for getting the most out of his offenses. As the offensive coordinator of the Eagles from 2006-2012, Mornhinweg’s offenses only twice failed to make the top 10 in points or yards. To put that in perspective, the Jets have only sniffed the top 10 in either category once since the turn of the millennium (2008).
Mornhinweg refuses to run a rookie-styled vanilla offense with Smith. In fact, Smith has been running a veterans offense that relies on multiple reads, audibles and players constantly in motion–with read-option and wildcat formations sprinkled in for good measure. For a quarterback with no experience in a pro-style offense and with issues in mechanics and footwork, Smith is asked to do more than most rookie QBs.
Smith has stepped up to prove his critics wrong. There was negative media hype about his attitude, but that issue has yet to surface. There was negative media hype about his ability to stretch the field, to which he has answered by averaging 7.9 yards per attempt; 9th best in the league and ahead of all-pro QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.
Working With Pedestrian Skill Players
Before the season began, analysts like Rotoworld’s Evan Silva and Yahoo!’s Andy Behrens cited the no-name running backs (Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson), lack of receivers (Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley) and over-the-hill veterans (Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow) as the worst set of offensive playmakers in the league.
Many failed to account for the budding potential of this group under a new offensive coordinator. A hobbled Holmes shredded the Bills secondary for a career-high 154 yards. Stephen Hill, who has the measurables of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, has graded more consistently. His improved route running and time spent with Antonio Cromartie over the offseason have led him to a team leading 233 receiving yards on just 13 catches. He’s on pace for 69 catches and 1243 yards (17.9 yards per catch).
As free agent pick-up Mike Goodson serves his suspension, Ivory and Powell have made the Jets the 6th-ranked run offense in the league. A mediocre talent at best, Powell is finally working with competent play calling that has him averaging 97 yards from scrimmage per game.
A Whole New World
Smith is not entrenched as the franchise quarterback yet, but he’s doing a bang-up job of keeping the Jets offense explosive. While he must do a better job of getting the ball out quickly, limiting turnovers and improving his deep throws, the Jets signal caller has silenced the critics and will continue to do so as the team wins more games. The schedule gets no easier from here, but if the rookie eliminates his mistakes don’t be shocked to see the green and white in the postseason come January.
~ Michael Clark, Sidelines Analyst