The famous late great football writer Paul Zimmerman was able to recognize trends. If he was alive today he might come up with one of his trend setting ideas that the wide receiver in today’s game is a plug and play position. It doesn’t matter who is in the lineup as long as the team wins in the trenches and the receivers can catch the ball.
The Jets training camp seems to have gotten off to a typical start with highly touted second round pick Denzel Mims from Baylor sitting out because of a strained muscle. In this Covid-19 upside down NFL season Jet fans and all NFL fans can expect anything. I’ve mentioned on our Podcast that the second wave of this horrific virus will happen when the Jets are 14-2 in December and Roger Goodell gives the word that the season is cancelled. But let’s look at one problem at a time and the wide receiver issue seems to be on all Jet fans minds. But is the issue as big as it seems? Maybe not.
On Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl team in 2002 the starting wide receivers were David Patten and Troy Brown. Good players but not Wes Welker, Julian Edelman or Randy Moss. The Jets aren’t stacked at wideouts and Sam Darnold isn’t Tom Brady just yet, but if the offensive line is as improved as everyone hopes, they might not be in as dire situation for pass receptions as everyone thinks.
Let’s look at some of the key personnel:
In 2019 he had almost a breakout year. With an up and down Darnold and the inept Luke Falk playing QB for the majority of 3 games, Crowder still had 78 receptions for 833 yards and 6 TDs. With Sam Darnold under constant pressure, he was able to get rid of the ball quick to Crowder.
With an improved offensive line I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more than 90 receptions this year.
A former first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens with 4.35 speed, Perriman has never played like one except for the last 5 games in 2019 with Tampa Bay. During that stretch he caught 25 passes for 506 yards and 5 TDs. He was tied for the league lead with DeVante Parker with 14 receptions of 20 or more yards in those 5 games. If this continues he may be the perfect match for Sam whose yards per completion was under 7.
This player is interesting. A New England Patriots draft pick out of Miami,
Barrios physically reminds me of Wes Welker. He mostly returned punts in 2019 with success but he showed promise in the slot and when he lined up on the outside. He has excellent hands and in limited snaps had 6 receptions for 115 yards. Adam Gase should take a long look at him at receiver and if he gets more snaps, he will do well.
Adam Gase has got to involve Bell more in the offense this year. Besides being a very talented runner, he can catch the ball with some of the best receivers in the league. The offense has got to put in plays that will isolate Bell outside against linebackers. His 83 receptions in 2014 and 85 in 2017 with the Steelers were not anomalies. Even his 66 receptions last year with the Jets was somewhat stunning considering how ineffective the Jets offense was.
This tight end can be dynamic if he could ever stay on the field. In 2018 he was developing real good chemistry with Darnold, making some very timely receptions. In 2019 a four game suspension along with injuries shelved his season. In today’s football schemes, having a tight end like Herndon opens up the field.
The Jet coaching staff likes WR Vincent Smith who has not impressed me.
Other WR wannabes on the roster like Jehu Chesson, Jeff Smith, Lawrence Cager and George Campbell may have an opportunity while Mims is on the sidelines.
Like all New York Jet training camps, they lead the league in ifs.
They will probably pick up a veteran WR sometime before the season starts. But with the present personnel, I’m more optimistic than most.
The two X factors are the offensive line and if Sam Darnold can take a
much need leap in his play. We’ll know sooner rather than later as this crazy season is approaching faster than we all figured.
Adendum: As soon as this article was written, the Jets signed wide receiver Chris Hogan. A good signing. Also Vyncint Smith is out 5-8 weeks. Denzel Mims is still sidelined.