As we wait for some veterans and some new players and other assorted newsmakers to wend their way through the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, I’ve worked up a few statistical nuggets as I continue to update and close the books on the different spreadsheets and databases that I maintained on the 2011 Jets.
These notes are in no particular order and far from exhaustive. We’ll break out plenty more of our exclusive information as we head into the offseason, begin to prepare our 2012 Yearbook, and get ready for free agency, the draft, OTAs, minicamps, training camp and the ’12 season (so far off now, but just wait).
There are opinions aplenty about QB Mark Sanchez and the development he made or didn’t make in Season 3 of his Jets/NFL career. But one thing is pretty clear-cut: He made major progress in causing the other guys to commit penalties.
Sanchez was the cause of 23 flags being thrown against opponents, with 178 yards being marked off against the bad guys. If that sounds like a lot, well, it’s the most I’ve ever charted for an individual Jet. Since 2000, the largest penalty-drawn figures had been chalked up by Chad Pennington in 2006 (19-122) and DE John Abraham in ’05 (18-135).
Sanchez’s penchant for causing penalties splits into two categories. One is the personal-foul/late hit/unnecessary-roughness/roughing/helmet-to-helmet variety. No. 6 was fouled by defenders seven times this season, with five of the majors getting marked off in the final six games.
I don’t know where that ranks among the rest of the NFL’s signalcallers, but it’s quite an alarming number considering the premium that the league has placed on protecting QBs.
The other area is the offsides/encroachment/neutral-zone-infraction category, where the QB’s guile (in the form of the hard count) comes into play. And Sanchez made a big leap here. From my own research only, not from the coaches’ breakdowns, 16 opponents infractions were flagged when Sanchez was calling his signals.
Pennington, at his peak in ’06, drew opponents offsides 24 times (17 flags accepted) in 17 games, including the playoffs. Sanchez, on the other hand, drew defenders into presnap penalties just three times combined in the 38 games in 2009-10. So a big “hut-HUT-hut” to you, Mark, in this small but valuable arrow in the quarterback’s quiver.
Here are some other penalty trivia for the Jets in ’11
Most Penalties Called on Jets
1. T Wayne Hunter (11 penalties, 80 yards)
2. TE Matt Mulligan (9 penalties, 63 yards)
3. CB Antonio Cromartie (7 penalties, 6 accepted, 56 yards)
4. G Brandon Moore (6 penalties, 35 yards)
4. (tie) ST Nick Bellore (6 penalties, 5 accepted, 54 yards)
Most Penalties Forced by Jets on Opponents
1. QB Mark Sanchez (23 penalties, 178 yards)
2. WR Santonio Holmes (10 penalties, 120 yards)
3. WR Plaxico Burress (9 penalties, 8 accepted, 87 yards)
4. TE Dustin Keller (5 penalties, 4 accepted, 67 yards)
One final flag list, of all the Jets who played in all 16 games and had no penalties called against them:
Offense — RB Shonn Greene, QB/H Mark Brunell
Defense — LB David Harris, LB Bart Scott, DT Sione Pouha
Specialists — K Nick Folk, LS Tanner Purdum
A special note on DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who was called for two penalties but, with one offset and the other declined, had no penalties marked off against him in a pretty sharp rookie season.
Keller Keeps On Rising
Dustin Keller this year became the first Jets tight end to lead the team in receptions for two consecutive seasons since Mickey Shuler turned the trick in 1984-85. Keller’s 65 catches were the most by a Jets TE since Shuler’s 70 in ’88, his 815 yards were the most since Shuler’s 879 in ’85, and his 12.5 yards per catch was the best average at the position since Johnny Mitchell’s 12.9 in ’94.
Speaking of yards, Keller has increased his yards per catch and in particular his average yards after catch every year since he’s been a Jet in the NFL:
2008 — 11.1 YPC, 3.4 YAC
2009 — 11.6 YPC, 3.7 YAC
2010 — 12.5 YPC, 4.0 YAC
2011 — 12.6 YPC, 4.6 YAC
The Right Stuff
We all know about David Harris with another 100-plus-tackles season, Aaron Maybin with his born-again team-leading six sacks, Darrelle Revis with his Jets-high 22 pass defenses, including a team-lead-sharing four picks.
But one area that doesn’t get much season-long examination is tackles for loss/no gain. These are not official stats and there is little standardization around the NFL in this category, so I’ve always kept my own TFL/NG stats from year to year.
And despite the up-and-down play of the defense in other areas, it’s interesting to note that at and behind the line, this year’s Jets were the best in the three seasons of the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine scheme.
The defense totaled 103 tackles for loss/no gain on the year, better than the 102 in the ’09 regular season and 80 in ’10. And four players led the way in this area — Calvin Pace with 13.5 tackles, Sione Pouha and Wilkerson with 12.5 apiece, and Harris at 12.0.
If you prefer to factor out the zero-yard gains and just count the “stuffs,” the leader is still Pace at 8.5, but Wilkerson rises to second alone with his 8.0 tackles for loss.
The Defensive Stoppers
I also like to chart the plays that make the big stops for the third- and fourth-down defense, that get the D off the field. Sometimes this is just a measure of who’s on the field the most in the sub package, but it does underscore some top performances as well.
For instance, not surprisingly, Harris, the top tackler overall, also led the Jets with 10 tackles on third and fourth down. Four of those tackles came on runs/receptions for loss or no gain, which also led the Green & White.
Sacks were another story. Maybin led the Jets with six sacks overall, and five of those QB takedowns came on crunch downs. Next closest was Bart Scott’s 2.5.
PDs? No surprise, Revis broke up eight passes on third/fourth downs, with two of them going for long-return interceptions in back-to-back home games — 100 yards for that IR score against Brandon Marshall and the Dolphins in Game 6, 64 yards the next week vs. the Chargers.
Stacking Up the Punting
T.J. Conley’s first season as an NFL punter wasn’t eye-popping, but on the other hand it was fairly reminiscent of Steve Weatherford. Consider these regular-season numbers, Weatherford’s from 2010, Conley’s from this year:
Punts — Weatherford 84, Conley 92
Gross Avg. — Weatherford 42.6 (23rd out of 32), Conley 42.7 (30th out of 32)
Net Avg. — Weatherford 38.1 (15th), Conley 38.8 (18th)
Opponents’ Avg. Return — Weatherford 11.1, Conley 7.5
Inside 20-10-5 — Weatherford 42 (tying the NFL record)-19-7, Conley 32-15-4
Touchbacks — Weatherford 4, Conley 6
Long Punt — Weatherford 61, Conley 63
Punts Blocked — Weatherford 0, Conley 0
Avg. Hang Time (unofficial) — Weatherford 4.6 seconds, Conley 4.4
Neither has a booming leg. Weatherford had a surgical touch last year, Conley not quite as much but pretty close for his first year as an NFL punter. Conley’s main averages were even slightly better, but Weatherford’s league rankings were higher.
And One More Thing
Eric Allen and our multimedia department have produced their latest video, “Examining the Jets’ Free Agent Class,” which will be live on newyorkjets.com later today. And EA will put together a blog on the subject of the Jets’ list of potential unrestricted and restricted FAs for all you Radar operators that will go live tomorrow morning.
Tags: Chad Pennington, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, T.J. Conley, Wayne Hunter
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