Here is the graph from the new Projection Machine which shows the Jets’ play calling tendency last year once game situation is accounted for. The pass tendency is negative, which means they ran more than you would expect given the game scores they found themselves in.
You can see from the graph that first year Jets offensive coordinator Marty Morninwheg was about as run heavy as the Jets have been in the Rex Ryan era. However, I think it’s important to remember that the team started a rookie QB and you’re pretty much never going to be as run heavy as you are when you’re starting a rookie QB.
Recall that Morninwheg came to the Jets via PHI, where he was the OC for a team that was routinely among the most pass happy in the league.
Here’s the graph that shows how pass happy the Eagles were. Morninwheg was on staff for each year highlighted.
In fact, before Morninwheg was the OC in PHI, he was the head coach in DET for two years. The Lions were also pass happy during his stint there.
It might also help to think about a team that we now know should have been pass happy, but was starting a rookie QB for part of the season. In 1999 the Eagles started Donovan McNabb for part of the season, only won 5 games, but still managed to run the ball 424 times. Outside of 2008, and the Michael Vick years, that was the most that an Andy Reid PHI team ran the ball. Certainly once you adjust for the negative game script it was a lot of rushing attempts. You can’t blame teams with rookie QBs for wanting to run the ball. In 2000, McNabb’s second season, he threw 569 times and was sacked 45 times for a total of 614 pass plays. I don’t think it’s totally ridiculous to expect that Geno Smith could see a similar bump in 2014.
In fact I can think of a number of reasons the Jets won’t be as run heavy as some might expect:
- Their RBs actually are sort of blah.
- They just used draft capital and free agent money on passing game pieces.
- Their OC has a 10+ year history of being pass happy.
- Their QB has a history of being a volume passer.
Based on these reasons that the Jets might pass more, as well as Smith’s ability to pick up fantasy points with his legs, he really might be wildly undervalued right now. Will he duplicate Donovan McNabb’s 569 attempts from his second year? Who knows?
All I know is that we’ve likely seen the trough for Jets passing tendency and there are reasons to expect those attempts to go up.
It’s true we’re talking about a guy that might not even start for his own team, although if he does, I think there are some compelling value components for Geno Smith in 2014.