The New York Jets have several players that their fan base tends to overrate
Is New York Jets running back Breece Hall overrated?
Before you answer a loud “Nisland!”, be aware of what the word “overrated” means. It does does not means the player is not good. In fact, I could call a Hall of Famer overrated. All it means is that people think the player is better than he actually is.
For example, I have long called Josh Allen of the Bills overrated. That doesn’t mean Allen is a bad quarterback or even that he isn’t a top-five quarterback in the NFL. It just means that if you rate him as a perennial MVP candidate and close to or better than Patrick Mahomes (and even Joe Burrow), I think you’re overrating him as a quarterback.
Then again, some players who are overrated really aren’t that good. Dalvin Cook, who was recently released by the Minnesota Vikings, is a great example at this point in his career.
With that definition in mind, let’s review the Jets players most overrated by the fan base. As with Michael Nania’s most underrated players, I’m not referring to those who are overrated around the league, but whose true value Jets fans understand. Rather, this is an exercise in debating players that Jets fans think are better than their play on the field has shown.
RB Breece Hall
Along those lines, yes, it’s possible to argue that Hall is overrated. From a statistical angle, it might be hard to tell that case, as Hall was second among 52 backs (min. 80 rush attempts) with 5.8 yards per carry. carry and a 10% explosive run rate (rushes of 15+ yards). He was also first with 4.13 yards after contact per game. attempts, a 100.0 elusiveness rating and 1.37 rush yards above expectations per attempt.
Yet statistics rely on the law of large numbers and its inverse, the law of small numbers. In other words, the results of a small sample do not necessarily reflect the true averages of the population. Applied to Hall, that would mean that an 80 carry test in the NFL doesn’t really tell us what he is as a running back. Therefore, the assumption that Hall would have been the best running back in the NFL had he remained healthy is flawed, even before accounting for his ACL tear.
Also, if you dig deeper into Hall’s numbers, you’ll notice that a small number of rushes accounted for a large percentage of his yards. He was fourth in breakaway rate at 43%, meaning close to half of his yardage came on runs of 15+ yards. If you exclude breakaways, Hall averaged 3.67 yards per carry. attempts, which was 18th among running backs (compared to his second-ranked 5.8 YPA overall). If you limit that to rushes under 10 yards, Hall averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. carry the rest of the time, ranking 40th.
In other words, Hall was highly boom-or-bust in 2022. While many great running backs are like that, over a large sample size, it tends to lower efficiency metrics, including DVOA and EPA. Hall’s 25.4% DVOA would have led all backs if he qualified (Football Outsiders has a threshold of 100 rushes), but that might not have continued. Clearly, part of his elite skills was his high breakaway rate (10%, second among running backs) and rate of 10-plus-yard runs (18.8%, first). Still, reliance on breakaways tends to decrease a player’s consistency.
It’s easy to believe that the Jets’ running game wouldn’t have declined so dramatically had Hall been healthy. But given the boom-or-bust nature, there could have been far more busts if he didn’t have the holes to work with.
Obviously, with Hall coming off a torn ACL, Jets fans understand that he may not be the same player he was in 2022. The point here is that Hall himself can never has been the player many thought he was to begin with. He has talent to be the top back in the NFL, but it was too early to say he was really there even before his injury.
Also, given his ACL tear, the most likely part of Hall’s game will be diminished is his explosive play. That’s what happened to Saquon Barkley in 2021, resulting in his paltry 3.7 yards per carry. attempt. As his breakaway yardage rate dropped from 44.9% over the first two years of his career to 21.6% in his first post-ACL tear season, Barkley was ineffective as a back. It’s possible the same could happen to Hall.
WR Allen Lazard
Many Jets fans wanted to see the team dump Corey Davis after they signed Allen Lazard. However, it’s important to note that Lazard has played with Aaron Rodgers over the last two seasons while Davis languished with a selection of Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White and Chris Streveler. Yet this is how their stats stand over the past two seasons:
- Davis: 22 plays, 3.0 receptions per game, 5.3 goals per game, 56.4% catch rate, 46.7 yards per carry game, 15.6 yards per reception, 0.27 TD per game, 3.5 YAC per (46.9%), 77.2% first down rate, 1.52 yards per route running, 8.8 yards per Goal
- Lazard: 30 plays, 3.3 receptions per game, 5.2 goals per game, 63.7% catch rate, 43.4 yards per carry game, 13.0 yards per reception, 0.47 TD per game, 4.6 YAC per (44.7%), 75% first down rate, 1.42 yards per route running, 8.3 yards per Goal
It’s clear that Lazard has Davis beat in receptions per. game, catch rate, touchdowns per games, YAC per reception and drop rate. The drop is particularly significant since while Lazard has been below average at 6.5% (the average is 5.5%), Davis’ rate is more than double the average. The touchdown rate also indicates that Lazard has a nose for the end zone.
But when you consider who threw the ball, it’s remarkable that Davis had more yards per carry. route, more yards per target, more yards per reception and a higher first-down rate. Sure, Lazard was the WR2 behind Davante Adams in 2021 and Christian Watson in half of 2022, but he and Davis were targeted at a very similar rate of routes run (Davis 17.3%, Lazard 17.0%).
In terms of touchdowns, Jets quarterbacks threw for one combined 34 scores over the last two seasons, while Packers QBs threw for 66. Davis accounted for 17.4% of the Jets’ receiving touchdowns, while Lazard accounted for 21.2% of the Packers’. It doesn’t seem nearly as sharp as the raw numbers.
Considering Jets quarterbacks completed 57.8% of their passes over the last two seasons compared to 66.3% for Packers quarterbacks, Davis’ and Lazard’s catch rates are pretty similar. Davis’ average target depth of 13.9 was also nearly two yards deeper than Lazard’s 12.1, which would make Davis’ average target more difficult to complete.
Furthermore, when Davis did playing with a competent quarterback, he wiped the floor with Lazard – and 2020 Ryan Tannehill was not 2021 MVP Rodgers. Here were Davis’ 2020 stats.
- 14 games, 4.6 receptions per game, 6.4 goals per game, 72.2% catch rate, 70.3 yards per carry game, 0.36 TD per game, 4.4 YAC per 75.4% first down rate, 2.58 yards per route running, 10.9 yards per Goal
Remember, Davis played second fiddle to AJ Brown that season, so he wasn’t just a compiler as a No. 1 receiver. When comparing them in a closer apples-to-apples situation, Davis was a better player in pretty much every way.
Lazard’s efficiency dropped significantly in 2022 as he was a WR1 for much of the season. He is at his best with a lower goal volume, which he played from 2019-21. The way Joe Blewett described Lazard is one bad WR2 or a good WR3. Davis, on the other hand, has the potential to become one well WR2.
Lazard will likely end up with a higher target volume than Davis because of his chemistry with Rodgers and his better durability. Make no mistake about it, though: Davis has a much higher ceiling as a player and is more worthy of the Jets’ WR2 tag. Many Jets fans thought they were getting a Davis upgrade in Lazard, but that is not the case.
WR Mecole Hardman
After word got out that the Jets plan to expand Mecole Hardman’s route tree, many assumed that Hardman has untapped potential. But if a speedy receiver couldn’t break out with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, there’s unlikely to be another spot where they suddenly break out.
As Blewett explained, Hardman is exactly what his contract says he is: a Braxton Berrios upgrade. Berrios was the Jets’ backup slot receiver and gadget player. This is also where Hardman excels. The biggest area for upgrade is that he’s a better deep threat than Berrios, both because he’s faster and a slightly better route runner.
Hardman saw a somewhat increased role with the Chiefs in 2022 due to the loss of Tyreek Hill, and his efficiency increased accordingly. He had 13.7 yards per carry. reception, four receiving touchdowns and 1.64 yards per carry. route run in 2022. However, he also had a whopping seven drops (14.6% rate) and caught just 1-for-5 contested targets, primarily due to his tendency. to alligator-arm a ball when he knows he’s going to be hit.
It’s also important to note that some of Hardman’s “receiving” production came on throws in the backfield that were essentially jet sweeps. They are recorded as receptions on the stat sheet because they were technically throws, but in terms of evaluating the player, they belong in the rushing yardage totals.
Hardman is certainly a useful player to have, but he is WR4. In fact, he may well lose snaps to Randall Cobb, who is a better route runner and far safer. Sometimes reliability trumps speed, and for a quarterback like Rodgers, that likely will be the case.
SS Jordan Whitehead
After reading Jet X, some fans may be less inclined to think as positively of Jordan Whitehead as they did throughout the season. Blewett warned before the 2022 season that Whitehead is poor in coverage, tackling in space and in gap discipline. The only area where he does well is making big hits from time to time, but since that’s what appears on screen, he has a much better reputation than it deserves.
We’ve already discussed ad nauseam how bad the Jets’ safety tandem was in 2022. Whitehead got something of a free pass from the fan base because Lamarcus Joyner was worse. The arrival of Chuck Clark could have helped, but it looks like he’s out for the season with an ACL tear. Either way, Clark profiled best as a Whitehead replacement, not as a high safety. Adrian Amos is another boxer who has struggled to cover the past two seasons.
Here’s a statistical thumbnail of Whitehead’s 2022 season.
- 12.9 yards per carry. reception allowed (55th out of 72 qualified safes)
- 15.3 yards per carry. receptions allowed in man coverage on 13 targets (last)
- 104.0 targeted passer rating in man coverage (57th)
- 15.6% missed tackle rate (T-62nd)
- one penalty per 565 snaps (42nd)
- 5.64 YAC per reception (53.)
- -9.5 defensive runs saved (worst among Jets defenders, according to Michael Nania’s charting)
K Greg Zuerlein
I’m not sure if Greg Zuerlein really qualifies, but his struggles toward the end of last season flew under the radar in light of the rest of the Jets’ futility. He won the kicking job over Eddy Pineiro in 2022 training camp because of his big leg. However, Zuerlein was just 26th out of 32 kickers with a 54.5% success rate from 50+ yards (6-for-11).
Overall, here was Zuerlein’s breakdown in each range compared to expected (xFGP = expected field goal percentage, FGOE = field goals above expected):
- 20-29 yards: 5-for-5 (100%), xFGP: 97.5%, +0.126 FGOE (18th)
- 30-39 yards: 10-for-10 (100%), xFGP: 92.9%, +0.712 FGOE (T-3rd)
- 40-49 yards: 9-for-11 (81.8%), xFGP: 81.3%, +0.053 FGOE (T-15th)
- 50+ yards: 6-for-11 (54.5%), xFGP: 69.3%, -1.627 FGOE (28th)
- Total field goal: 30-for-37 (81.1%), -0.736 FGOE (24th)
- PATs: 28-for-29 (96.6%), +0.525 PATOE (16th)
- Total number of points: -1,683 points above expectation (21st)
In other words, Zuerlein was below average as a kicker in 2022, and his kicking from 50+ yards was the main reason. Meanwhile, Pineiro was fifth among kickers with +7,143 points above expectations, although he only had two attempts from over 50 yards (he made them both).
In the end, the Jets’ pick was exactly what they got: the leg strength (hence the nickname “Greg the Leg”) without the accuracy. While Zuerlein wasn’t the disaster that some of the previous Jets’ kickers have been, he wasn’t a strong kicker compared to the league average.