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Inside the Numbers: Short-Yardage Focus

Posted Oct 21, 2017

Jets Concentrated This Week on Improving Their 3-of-9 Showing on 3rd-/4th-and-Short vs. Patriots


Something bothered the Jets offense this past week from the loss to New England. It's probably not what you'd think.

"We need to execute better" in third- and fourth-and-short situations, coordinator John Morton said. "That's everybody, including myself. It wasn't good enough last game, obviously. We made it a big emphasis this week."

"To get yourself in third-and-short and be 3-of-9," said QB Josh McCown, "that's not good."

Since the Jets converted 10 of 20 on all third and fourth downs combined vs. the Patriots, what might a decent showing on third- and fourth-and-short have meant?

The low point probably came in the third quarter when Matt Forté was stoned on a third-and-1 carry, then McCown under pressure threw an interception on fourth-and-1.

The 3-of-9 on third-/fourth-and-3-or-less was not a high point in franchise history. They've had 53 games with at least eight short-yardage opportunities. Only two games have been worse:

■ In the 1969 regular season, they were 2-of-9 in a 34-16 Shea Stadium loss to the Chiefs in a preview of that year's AFL playoff game.

■ In 2009, they were 2-for-8 in a lackluster 24-10 loss at New Orleans that ended their 3-0 start.

An average performance in third-/fourth-and-short would be a 60% conversion rate. So with all the focus in practice, 3-of-5 or better at Miami on Sunday would be desirable.

Costly Touchbacks
As for the controversial replay reversal vs. New England, Jets fans will forever insist Austin Seferian-Jenkins should have scored. But the final call was a fumble over the end zone sideline resulting in a touchback, one of the rare outcomes in the NFL.

My research notes only one other time the Jets lost a touchdown on a fumble out of the end zone. In 1971 at Shea, rookie Steve Harkey carrying from the San Fran 1 lost a fumble for a touchback. The 49ers used that reprieve in posting a 24-21 win.

Only three such touchbacks in the Jets' favor have occurred. One came in 1989 at New Orleans, then two occurred in a nine-game span last season, at Kansas City and home vs. Indianapolis. The Jets, however, lost all three games.


Ealy, Kerley Updates
Kony Ealy returned from the shoulder issue that kept him out of Cleveland to swat away two Tom Brady passes behind the line of scrimmage. That gives Ealy seven PDs for the season, which not only easily leads all NFL D-linemen this season but also is tied for 10th among all defenders.

Jeremy Kerley's mantra — "I feel like anytime the ball's in my area, I'm going to try to grab it" — enabled him to add those two 30-yard receptions to his hot start in which he had caught all 19 passes targeted for him. That streak came to an end on McCown's last pass of the game, a fourth-down heave over Kerley's head. Even though uncatchable, that pass counts as a target and so now JK has to begin a new streak.

 


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