The New York Jets wide receiving corps looked weak entering the season. With injuries piling up, the lack of depth has been exposed.
After the offseason, the New York Jets receiving corps looked stronger than the one they fielded in 2019. It didn’t seem possible to have one worse. After all, the Jets’ top three receivers produced just 2,045 yards.
The Jets brought back their leading receiver, Jamison Crowder. They replaced Robby Anderson with Breshad Perriman after his breakout end to the 2019 season. Lastly, they added highly-touted prospect Denzel Mims in the second round of the draft.
There was little doubt the Jets had a more talented group of receivers. All the Jets needed was for Crowder to replicate his 2019 form, Breshad Perriman to replicate Robby Anderson, and Mims to outproduce Demaryius Thomas. That didn’t seem like a lot to ask.
Now the injuries are starting to pile up for the Jets and it’s becoming clear the Jets receiving corps may actually be worse than their 2019 group.
Perriman’s best season doesn’t equal Anderson’s worst season. Crowder is coming off a career year. Meanwhile, the Jets were relying on a rookie with no offseason workouts to take over as a starting receiver.
As that reality began to set in, the injuries began piling up. First, it was Denzel Mims. The Jets rookie has a hamstring injury that’s cost him the first week of training camp.
As a rookie, Mims needs as many reps as possible. Wide receiver is one of the most difficult positional transitions to make from college to the NFL. Even if Mims comes back at the end of the week, which is the current expectation, he’ll only have about two weeks of practice before final cuts and about three weeks before Week 1.
That’s not nearly enough time for Mims to get accustomed to the offense, his quarterback, and the speed of the NFL. Still, the Jets have no choice but to play him.
His backup was Vyncint Smith. The speedy receiver was fourth on the Jets’ depth chart in 2019. He had taken over for Mims in training camp, but he’s been struck with a core muscle injury. He’s set to undergo surgery on Tuesday that will cost him the first month or two of the season, at least.
With Vyncint Smith out, it’s fallen on Jeff Smith, a gadget player who missed nearly all of 2019 due to injuries, to take his place. If he’s taking starter snaps for the Jets, they’re in big trouble.
He’s not likely to hold onto that job for long though, he’s going to be replaced by the newly-signed Chris Hogan in the next few days. Hogan has spent time with the Dolphins, Bills, Patriots, and Panthers in his career. Now he’s with the Jets.
The man known as 7/11 put up just 67 yards on eight receptions in 2019 with the Panthers. Injuries limited him to just seven games, but those numbers aren’t acceptable, even in a seven-game season.
All of this is to say the Jets offense isn’t deep enough. All it takes is one or two injuries and everything comes falling apart. Will Sam Darnold be able to lift up the weak offensive unit around him? He’ll likely have to given this could be a make-or-break season for him.