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Inside the Numbers: 'Behind the Sticks'

How Tough Was It for the Jets' Offense on Third Down at Tampa Bay? That's a Long Story


"The sticks" are not a good place for an offense to be behind.

"The biggest issue was first and second down — we just stayed behind the sticks," said QB Josh McCown in the days after the 15-10 loss at Tampa Bay. "We have to be better."

"Anytime you start and have 10 or 11 third-and-10-plusses," said head coach Todd Bowles, "it's not going to be a good day."

Heading into the bye weekend, we crunched some numbers for you on why the Jets want to avoid being so far behind the sticks again.

■ In an average game, teams will be in third-and-11 or longer two or three times. Against the Buccaneers, the Jets' average third-down distance was 11.3 yards.

■ The last time the Jets averaged more than 10 yards to go on third down was in 2013 at Tennessee (10.4). The last time at more than 11 yards to go: 2005 at Buffalo (11.2).

■ The eight third-and-11-plus situations vs. the Bucs were tied for third-most in a game in franchise history. The 11.3 average was the highest mark since third-and-11.9 vs. the Eagles in 1996.

■ Most important about being behind the sticks is how it influences a team's chances of winning. In the 23 games all-time that the Green & White have averaged third-and-11-plus, their record is 3-20 and they've averaged 14.4 points/game.

Top Photos from the First 10 Games of the 2017 Season

The Jets' third-down yardage average is on the high side this season (7.74 before the Bucs) but the conversion rate had been middle of the pack (39.5%). But if they don't get a handle on the penalties, sacks and minus plays that create those situations, Carolina could make it another long afternoon behind the sticks. More on that next week.

Long and Short of ItAt least if they're in third- and fourth-and-longs, the Jets have shown an ability to get out of those scrapes once in a while. Against the Bucs, McCown converted a third-and-14 with a 20-yarder to Robby Anderson and a late fourth-and-16 with the 28-yarder to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The last time the Jets converted two longer third-/fourth-and-longs in a game was in the home win over New England in Geno Smith's rookie season of 2013.

And in general on third downs, McCown continues to excel. His 102.3 passer rating on third downs was fifth in the NFL through 10 weeks and he was the only QB with a passing accuracy over 70% at 70.4.

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