Even with last week’s one catch, nine yard performance Justin Blackmon is having a pretty good rookie year. He is averaging 46 yards per game, 14 yards per reception, and has three touchdowns (two in the last three games). After seeming lost and confused for some time at the beginning of the year, Blackmon is now starting to get things rolling.
However, the Blackmon we know has struggled against tighter coverage. Last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills highlighted that Blackmon, despite a couple better performances this season, still has a lot to learn. He struggles to beat man coverage too often, and he is rarely effective when the defense rolls even more coverage to him. Sometimes he makes circus catches, but most of the time he is what he is: a rookie.
Yet when given that buffer, Blackmon is physical enough to make things happen. All you have to do is look to his 236 yard performance against the Houston Texans in week 11. He only caught seven balls, but his production after the catch was ridiculous. Blackmon was able to take the space afforded him by the Houston secondary and outmuscle players for huge yardage.
The Texans are a premier defense. Coming into Sunday’s game, the Jets are a premier passing defense.
Even without Darrelle Revis, the Jets have managed to remain in the top five of passing defenses. They don’t limit touchdowns too well (17th), they don’t create turnovers (21st in interceptions), but they do stop offenses from racking up yards through the air (fourth). While numbers don’t lie, they certainly don’t show the whole story with the Jets defense. Part of the reason the Jets passing defense numbers are so good is because the run defense is so poor. Currently ranked 29th in yards and 26th in touchdowns allowed, offenses really have no reason to go pass happy against the Jets. In fact, offenses average only 198 yards through the air per game against the Jets, yet they average a pleasant 137 on the ground. Why pass when you know you can eat up yards and time against a team that can hardly score on offense?
Here, I think Blackmon could show up a highly ranked defense and look good in the process. If Blackmon has some room you can be sure that Chad Henne will try to take some shots at him down field and let him outmuscle some defenders for a big gain.
Of course, I could be wrong and we could see last week’s one catch performance yet again. Or worse yet, we could see week two’s shut out. I think Blackmon has an opportunity to do what he did against Houston, again. I doubt he’ll get 236 yards, but something more than nine would be nice.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims