From JP Pelzman of the Bergen Record:
"Everybody would like to be more like that because you score more points," he said when asked if pass-oriented offenses are more desirable.Mornhinweg did concede that the Jets have focused on protecting and controlling the football through their ground game this season.
"In this league you need to pass the ball very efficiently to score points, typically," he added. "Now, every game is just a little bit different. Certainly, the passing game, you have to get that going at some point to win on a consistent basis."
The coordinator added that with "the way we are built, [running the ball] is a reasonable thing to do. … It's a conscious choice."While many fans might be frustrated with Mornhinweg's offense this year, he's not wrong that passing the football is the key to sustained success in the league now.
Anyone who has listened to Mike Westhoff on SNY or ESPN Radio this year knows that he has preached that the Jets should throw the ball more on first down. Why? Because on average it gains more yards and is more successful than it ever has been at any time in the history of the NFL.
To underscore that point, back in 2008 Pat Kirwan wrote on NFL.com that to make third down conversions, teams must take care of business on first downs.
More and more that means throwing the football on first down as Westhoff has pleaded the Jets to do.
Bill Barnwell has written about the NFL's "balance" of run and pass and why "balance" should skew to the pass, especially on first downs.
Start with the simple fact that the word “balance” doesn’t mean what most might think. Balance in the NFL is not a 50-50 proposition. Just about every team in football throws more than runs, which isn’t a surprise, because the average team empirically gets more from throwing the football in the vast majority of situations than it does from running the football. Take the essential basic measure of what a team wants to do on offense: their play calls on first-and-10 when the scoring margin between the two teams is within 14 points.3 Teams rushed the ball 51.8 percent of the time in that situation last year. Teams average 6.9 yards when they drop back to pass in those situations, but only 4.3 yards when they run the ball. Even allowing for the turnover rate in that spot increasing from 0.6 percent with a running play to 3.2 percent with a passing play, teams don’t throw the ball frequently enough on first down.He's not the only one to think so. Barrett Hansen wrote earlier this year on Harvard Sports Analytics that teams who show even slightly more aggressiveness at passing early score more points.
... if teams pass 3% more on the first three plays of drives starting inside their own 40, they can expect to gain just under a point per game.The problem is that even though Mornhinweg is right about what the Jets ought to do, the team is so shoddily constructed right now that they couldn't do it even if they tried. We need look no further than the offensive line. According to Football Outsiders, the line ranks 29th at pass protection and won't likely get much better in the coming year without an overhaul.
Gil Brandt wrote on NFL.com about the top teams in the draft and had this to say about the Jets needs, specifically on their line:
The offensive line needs an overhaul. Center Nick Mangold is a keeper, but LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson is a descending player and the rest of the starting linemen are NFL backups.Brandt isn't wrong. The group ranks 15th at PFF's pass-blocking efficiency and is saved from being worse because of their emphasis on the run. Throughout his career, Ferguson has always been a player who thrived when he could rely on the guard next to him. But when that guard wasn't excelling, neither has he.
In the last two seasons, GM John Idzik has sunk four draft picks into the offensive line and if forced to start, most could be easily upgraded through free agency or the first two days of the NFL Draft. Their assumptive 2014 starter at left guard Brian Winters was an abject disaster and saved GM John Idzik from the bell due to Winters season-ending injury. Aboushi stepped in and has looked better in recent weeks but is still shaky. Their biggest 2013 project was a converted defensive lineman (Will Campbell) who was cut this summer and wasn't even retained on the taxi squad. The jury is still out on Dakota Dozier, but at best he might be an interior starter for this group.
Keith Goldner of NumberFire wrote this week on SI.com that an average (16th or 17th) quarterback is worth his weight in gold. The emphasis is mine.
Since 2000, the average passing NEP for a quarterback with at least 400 passing plays is +42.0. That means a league-average quarterback will add about six touchdowns over expectation to his offense throughout the course of a season. This may be counterintuitive. You might think the average quarterback would add nothing over expectation, but in today’s NFL, passing is a more efficient option to running. Quarterbacks, in turn, tend to make up for poor rushing efficiency.The irony of this whole thing, is that the Jets can't even find and keep an average NFL quarterback. An average NFL quarterback with a coach willing to allow the offense some offensive leash would have put the Jets into playoff contention, maybe like the Bengals of the last few years or the Bills this season.
But without a coach willing to give the offense some flexibility and a mediocre quarterback, the Jets will be doomed to repeat themselves.