Jamison Crowder is often overlooked when assessing the Jets' offensive weapons ahead of the 2020 season. The Jets definitely needed to upgrade on the outside, especially once Robby Anderson signed with the Panthers. Crowder, however, does most of his damage in the slot.
In 2019, Crowder was fourth in the NFL in receptions from the slot and ninth in yards. So, while the Jets might be weak or unproven on the outside, they are better than most teams in the slot. Only Cooper Kupp, Julian Edelman and Larry Fitzgerald had more receptions from the slot last season.
Toss a healthy Chris Herndon back into the mix and the Jets do have some strong weapons on the inside. Herndon had the 10th most catches out of the slot for any tight end during his rookie year and the 16th most overall.
Crowder did an excellent job last year but, for whatever reason, he was inconsistent in 2019. Maybe the gameplan, play selection or quarterback(s) were to blame for this but there was a definite trend where Crowder was either productive or not, with no real middle ground.
In eight games, Crowder had 40 or less receiving yards. In the other eight, he had 60 or more receiving yards. As a general rule, these usually corresponded to whether or not Anderson was productive as there were only two games (Dallas and Baltimore) where Darnold - or perhaps Gase - got both of them involved to the tune of at least 50 receiving yards each.
In those eight games where Crowder's production was low, he caught 22 passes for 181 yards and no touchdowns. He only had a 51 percent catch rate and quarterbacks had a rating of just 42.9 when targeting him. The Jets went 2-6 in these games.
On the other hand, in the eight games where Crowder was productive, the Jets went 5-3. Crowder caught 56 passes for 653 yards and six touchdowns with a 75 percent catch rate and a 110.6 quarterback rating.
Clearly the Jets were more successful when they were able to successfully integrate Crowder into the offense. He was more efficient in those games and made more significant plays with an average per catch of 11.7 yards in the games where he was more involved, as opposed to just 8.2 in those games where he was less effective.
There could be various reasons that go beyond the playcalling as to why Crowder wasn't involved in those other games. Maybe defenses were specifically taking action to mitigate him or had better slot personnel on defense. In one of these games, Crowder had to play outside due to injury.
Darnold himself may also have been a factor, looking downfield too often rather than finding Crowder underneath to move the chains. In week one, he targeted Crowder 15 times and Crowder caught 14 passes for 99 yards. However, he didn't have double-digits in targets again until week 15 (and one more time in week 17).
While Crowder saw far fewer targets in those games where he didn't produce as much, this perhaps makes sense if he was enjoying less success in those games. However, the Jets did try to force the issue at times. For example, Crowder had nine targets in the Bengals game but ended up with a season-low eight yards on two catches in a bad loss.
Perhaps Crowder can also take some of the blame himself, although he only had three dropped passes in the games where his production was low (and seven overall).
Crowder's production in those eight games may not be sustainable over a full season, but it does give an insight into the potential he has if the Jets can maximize his effectiveness.
Heading into the 2020 season, we may find that teams overlook Crowder too. As a result, he might be able to contribute on a more consistent basis going forward. That will bode well for the offense and the team's chances of success next year.