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Jeremy Kerley Pitches In on the Run Game

Posted Dec 5, 2014

Jets' WR Made It Happen on Two Rushes vs. Miami, Giving Him an Offbeat NFL Distinction

Part of the secret to the Jets' rushing success Monday night — and part of the reason we might be able to keep the good times rolling at Minnesota despite head coach Mike Zimmer's defensive schemes — is that many different Jets took part in the 277-yard attack Monday night.

One telling stat: We had eight different ballcarriers against the Dolphins, our most in a game in the last 81 games, or since eight players carried the rock in the "Win And We're In" game against the Bengals on Jan. 3 2010.

"The Jets are pounding them with an array of different runs," ESPN's Jon Gruden said early in the second quarter. "You're seeing a lot of different schemes. I've seen power schemes, toss plays, reverses, traps — I don't know how many running plays are in this Jet attack tonight, but I've seen a lot."

Another stat: Besides the Chris Ivory power and bounceout runs and the Chris Johnson slash-and-gash carries, three wide receivers carried on seven end-around plays that gained 70 yards and four first downs. There was, of course, Greg Salas' 20-yard touchdown run (the play that unfortunately ended his season with a pulled hamstring), and four shorter runs by Percy Harvin.

And there was Jeremy Kerley doing his thing.

It's been a slower year for JK at wideout. He has 32 receptions for 305 yards, a 9.5-yard average. It's not for want of trying with those two late long balls that were just a little too long against Green Bay and Chicago. A year after totaling 30 first downs and a team-leading 17 third-down conversions, all on receptions, he's off that pace with 20 first downs and nine 3DCs.

"I'm trying to," Kerley told me about seeking bust-out plays and games similar to Game 8 last year against the Patriots. "Every receiver wants the ball in his hands, so I wish I had more, but it is what it is. I just try to make something happen with it. If I can get into a groove, that definitely helps me out."

The past few weeks, Kerley's been trying to get his groove on. The 41-yard punt return against the Bills was a start — "The guys had it set up real good," he said. "I got to the wall and tried to do the rest."

Then there was Jeremy's role for his second Monday night game in eight days. He lined up in the slot, moved for the handoff at the snap to Geno Smith, and breezed 18 yards through some wide-open spaces on the second offensive play of the game against the 'Fins. In the next quarter, he again transitioned from slot to back for a 20-yard end-around burst.

Those two runs gave Kerley a funky NFL distinction. At the moment he has a 37.5-yard rushing average, tied for the fourth-best in one season in league history for any player with at least two carries.

"I like that," Kerley said when informed of his number-crunched ranking. (Keyshawn Johnson is 11th on this list with his 30.0 average on two carries for 60 yards in 1998.)

How do we come to Kerley's average? Well, there was that 37-yard gain on the pitch from Geno against the Packers. Scoring rules dictate that laterals past the line of scrimmage count as a rush for the lateraler but not the lateralee, so Kerley's yardage was gained without benefit of a carry. Add 0-for-37 to 2-for-38 vs. Miami and voila! Fourth place all time.

All he has to do to maintain that is gain 20 or 30 yards every carry. But as coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Rex Ryan, Gruden and Jets fans everywhere would agree, it would be OK if we ran the ball almost as well as we did against Miami but popped a few big passing connections off of play-action passes to Eric Decker, Harvin or Kerley. After all, yardage any way is acceptable, and team victory, not individual yardage, is the goal.

NFL'S BEST-EVER SEASON RUSHING AVERAGES*
Player, Team Season Atts Yds Avg
WR Larry Brunson, KC 1975 2 89 44.5
RB-DB Billy Atkins, BUF 1961 2 87 43.5
WR Derrick Alexander, KC 1999 2 82 41.0
WR James McKnight, MIA 2003 2 75 37.5
WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ** 2014 2 75 37.5
*Players with at least two carries in a season. **Season not complete



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