It took awhile, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins is making the New York Jets look like geniuses for claiming him on waivers last year.
Last season the New York Jets took a flier on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, claiming him on waivers after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut ties with him after a DUI arrest. He’s proven that was the right move to make this season.
In just four games—he was suspended for the first two—he’s caught 23 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. It should be three touchdowns, but the NFL essentially made up rules to help the New England Patriots beat the Jets in Week 6.
He’s single-handedly nearly eclipsed the production the Jets got from their tight ends in 2016—18 catches for 173 yards and no touchdowns. You could argue that he’s been the MVP of the offense, and possibly even the entire team.
ASJ has been a reliable target for quarterback Josh McCown, and a big reason as to why McCown is having one of the finer years of his long NFL career.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 15, 2017
At 6-foot-6, 262 pounds, he is a towering physical specimen who has impressive speed for a man his size. That makes him incredibly difficult to cover. He’s too big for a defensive back and too fast for a linebacker. The idea of him playing with Jordan Leggett lined up at tight end is very exciting.
His blocking has improved this season as well, something that he put a lot of work into. Of course, one could question why it took Seferian-Jenkins so long to figure it out. He has a very inspiring story.
Many people know about Seferian-Jenkins’ struggles with alcoholism. The fact that he has been able to put his life back together after struggling with the disease is an amazing story, and that he’s become a productive NFL player on top of that is icing on the cake.
“I’m lucky to be here,” he told ESPN’s Rich Cimini last year. “The last time I played the Patriots, I pulled my hamstring, and I thought that was the last time I was going to play football. … I felt like I was done. I felt like I was done playing”
Seferian-Jenkins was dealing with yet another injury, as well as his now well-documented off-field issues. However, he checked into rehab in the offseason and cleaned himself up. He also developed a newfound dedication and love for the game, which only months earlier he thought he had lost forever.
He also dropped weight—32 pounds—to get his life, both on and off the field, back on track. His trainer said the dedication was impossible to ignore.
“You can tell if a guy was out the night before on the Strip,” fitness guru Brian Van Hook told Cimini. “That was never the case with him. He was on time and never missed a workout.”
That dedication has paid off in a big way so far this season. He’s producing at a high rate and has been a major key to the Jets offense. All three of the Jets wins came with him in the game. He has become a legitimate difference-maker in the offense.
More importantly, he’s become an inspiration for those who are battling the disease it took him years to overcome—and still battles to this day. The Jets and everyone watching can only hope that he continues to win his daily battles, both on and off the field.