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New York Jets have true No. 1 receiver

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Michael Pallas | Aug 27th, 2019

Chris Herndon and Jamison Crowder are the No. 1 receiver for the New York Jets in 2019. (For all the grammar Nazis out there, I do know that is incorrect grammar, but it’s intentional, and you will understand why later.)

In the days of Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and the like, most teams ran a lot of their running game — and subsequently the play-action — out of what has become known as 21 personnel (two backs, one tight end, and two wide receivers). In fact, players like current FOX NFL analyst Darryl Johnston was a household name, despite hardly touching the football, because as the lead back for Smith, he was an integral part of the offense.

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When you add Michael Irvin to the mix, the Dallas Cowboys offense became more potent. His presence was crucial to the success of the team. Without a player of his skills, the opponents of the Cowboys could’ve played one-on-one on the outside, and stacked the box against Smith. Since teams were running the ball more often, the presence of the “true No. 1 receiver” was a must.

Fast forward to 2019, and offenses have shifted to more passing (dropping back (not just attempts) at nearly a 3-2 clip in comparison to the run). 11 personnel has become the prevalent offensive grouping. With that, teams need to be more creative in how they attack opposing defenses, and that’s where Crowder and Herndon (upon return from his suspension) come in.

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Offensive philosophy has changed dramatically. According to Sharp Football Stats, in the last three seasons, the NFL has seen 11 personnel used 84% of the time league-wide, and the Jets have used it 49% of the time in that same period. Adam Gase used it 68% of the time in Miami.

In order to combat this, teams are in more and more nickel base packages. This means fewer seven-man boxes, and eight-in-the-box is virtually unheard of.

The influx of primarily pass-catching tight ends and the slot receiver essentially act as the No. 1 receiver diverting attention away from the running game to create a more favorable matchup.

Herndon gives them that tight end in the middle of the field who will also give them yards after the catch. Crowder does the same thing from the slot. With Crowder, Herndon, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, now they can attack all levels of the field. Instead of having just one guy, the Jets have four to do the job of one, and it’s made possible by the slot and tight end.

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