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Week 5 starts tonight with the 1-2-1 Colts facing off against the 2-2 Broncos. I do love how quickly the weeks turnover in the NFL.
I was planning to move on to Miami today, but instead, I’m going to focus on Corey Davis instead because the more you watch the Jets the more you appreciate what he does for the team.
First, we’re going to check in on what Coach Saleh said yesterday and get a look at the first injury report of the week.
Jets offensive tackle Duane Brown and defensive lineman Vinny Curry returned to practice on Wednesday, starting their 21-day window before they need to be activated to the active roster.
Zach Wilson was limited in practice yesterday with an ankle injury, however, Coach Saleh said the Jets QB would be fine for Sunday. It sounds as though it was merely a precaution.
Breece Hall was in on 66% of snaps on Sunday and Saleh spoke about his physical running style yesterday saying: "There was a couple of occasions where he put his shoulder right through their sternums."
Coach Saleh confirmed that Max Mitchell is “probably out” this weekend and that Quincy Williams was doubtful. It would be a shock to see either on Sunday. Saleh also wouldn’t confirm if Duane Brown would be available this weekend, today is a padded practice which will indicate how close Brown is to returning.
Daniel Jeremiah ranked the top 25 best rookies in the NFL through the first quarter of the season and three Jets made the top 10. Sauce Gardner led all rookies by being named the best rookie with Jeremiah saying “Gardner is already establishing himself as one of the premier players at his position. He has an uncanny knack for locating and playing the ball down the field.” Garrett Wilson came in at #5 and Breece Hall was #8. Jermaine Johnson also made the list, coming in at #18.
The Miami Dolphins are a little banged up heading into this week’s matchup, here is the full injury report:
Every week I go back and watch the Jets games and try to focus on one or two players, a lot of the time it’s offensive linemen as that’s a position group I enjoy watching and evaluating. This week I decided to focus on #84 and #84 alone to try and understand the complete game of Corey Davis.
Corey Davis came under quite a lot of fire last year as he experienced a difficult first year in New York. He struggled with his health towards the end of the season and his hands were inconsistent. Heading into this year I wanted to see whether the drops last year were an aberration, a blip, just one of those things.
Davis had played four years in the league before he signed with the Jets and his drop rate never exceeded 6.5%, in his first year with the Jets it was 15%, over double. Chances were it was going to revert back to the norm, four years’ worth of data tends to be better than one year’s worth of data. So far through the first four weeks, that’s exactly what’s happened. Davis has 1 drop for a drop rate of 6.3% according to PFF, but 3.8% if you actually look at it based on targets as Pro Football Reference do.
Another statistic that was out last year was his contested catch ability. Davis is a 6’3, 210lb receiver who gained a reputation in Tennessee as a good 50/50 guy. In 2019 he caught 71.4% of his contested catches and then followed that up in 2020 with 64.7%, two very good numbers. Last year that number regressed below the tipping point of 50% with him coming down with just 46.2% of contested balls. Again, so far this year that number has reverted with Davis catching 75% of contested balls.
2022 has been a fine year so far for Corey. He’s caught 65.2% of all balls thrown his way, 75% of his contested catches. He has 2 touchdowns through four games and 261 yards to go with them. Of his 15 receptions this season, 13 of them went for first downs and that includes a key 4th and 7 play on Sunday. So far so good.
Last year was difficult for a lot of players. Corey was asked to do a lot for the Jets and Zach tried to force the ball to him early in the season, even when Davis wasn’t even remotely open. That led to 5 interceptions for the Jets quarterbacks when targeting Corey in the passing game. I’m not saying Corey is blameless because he has several passes that hit him in the hands and he just didn’t bring down, but the offense never got into a flow.
The Jets had to pay Corey to get him in the building and I think the issue last year was that he was one of the higher-paid receivers in the league, when people look at the salary there is a certain expectation, and if you were expecting WR1 production based on salary alone it was always going to end in disappointment. But Corey does a lot of things well, and Joe Douglas structured his contract in such a way that if it didn’t work out the Jets could exit the deal after this season if they desired, and they could save $10.5 million. Some have suggested he may be traded at the deadline which I think would be a mistake based on what we’ve seen this season.
As things stand with the wide receiver market exploding over the last 6 months, Corey Davis is set to be the 30th highest paid receiver next season, considering what he offers, that’s value.
I just wanted to highlight a few key plays from the Steelers game that showcase his value to us.
The first one is from early in the game with the Jets backed up. One thing that Corey does throughout the game is run a lot of vertical routes. The point of this is to stress the defense and open up gaps underneath for the likes of Moore, Conklin and Wilson. Corey knows he’s not going to get the ball, but he also knows that he needs to clear the safeties out of the space. On Sunday he actually got open more than once on a vertical route, just like this one where he beats his man clean off the line. Zach is always looking left and doesn’t see him, but this is likely a touchdown if he does.
*Apologies for the video, the All-22 footage seemed to have a slight glitch at the start.
Looking back on the game you notice just how involved Corey is in the blocking game and how much trust the Jets coaches have in him to do some of this “grunt” work as we like to call it. First of all I just really like the play design on the next play with Micheal Carter as the lead blocker and Corey coming down from the top of the screen to seal the inside and deliver a pop to spring Breece Hall for a nice gain.
It worked so well the first time, Mike LaFleur decided to dial it up again, and again it went for a very nice gain. Corey Davis comes up and pops the linebacker to stall his flow to Breece Hall and Michael Carter is out as the lead blocker, and the corner actually does a very nice job absorbing the hit and then getting an arm on Hall to slow him down.
This is a really nice play design with the Jets using the big body of Tyler Conklin to almost screen Corey Davis who makes a nice sudden cut. It looks as though the corner thinks Davis is going to run a flat and then he can’t recover once Davis comes back inside. Really well designed, really well executed.
Here we’re going to a key play that kept the Jet’s drive alive. This is a very difficult catch to make considering the ball is around a foot off the ground when Corey makes the grab, he’s also stopping his momentum and reaching backward for the ball. This is the kind of catch you are paying Corey good money to catch. Without this catch, we likely don’t win this game.
Then the game-winner. Another play where Corey stops the momentum of a linebacker and allows his RB the opportunity to find the hole to score the winning touchdown. J
Those are just a handful of plays and I could have featured 4-5 more. There was the leaping catch over the middle, the perfect route that almost ended in a big play had the ball been just a little more accurate from Zach, and a few more instances of solid blocking on the outside.
Corey may not grab the headlines this year, but his all-around game is extremely valuable to the Jets.