The New York Jets have tried to get Braxton Berrios going on offense all year, often with better options on the field. Why?
Braxton Berrios has become a household name for New York Jets fans this year. He’s started four games at slot receiver and he’s led the team in targets in three games.
As the backup slot receiver, Berrios has been a big part of Adam Gase‘s offense with Jamison Crowder dealing with injury issues, and that’s a problem. Berrios wouldn’t be seeing the field for any other NFL team.
Is his role really because of the talent deficit this team faces? Berrios has played games with Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims and still seen the most targets, so it’s not likely. It’s likely that Gase has just refused to change his scheme.
That’s inexplicable considering the Jets already knew that Berrios wasn’t an NFL caliber receiver going into the season.
Struggles as a receiver
Braxton Berrios has never been a good receiver. Even dating back to his days at the University of Miami, Berrios just never had a feel for offense. In his best college season, Berrios put up just 679 yards receiving, though he did have nine touchdowns.
Berrios was a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 by the New England Patriots and spent the season on injured reserve. He was cut the next offseason and scooped up by the Jets.
Berrios immediately won the punt returner job and that was his sole role for the majority of the season. He only played 8% of offensive snaps. He put up just six receptions for 115 yards, but even those numbers are deceiving.
Berrios had one reception for 69 yards, a slant against the Oakland Raiders. Take that away and he has five receptions for just 46 yards. Those are abysmal numbers.
Despite that, the Jets have decided that Berrios is going to be an integral part of their offense this season. It made sense in some instances when Jamison Crowder missed games, but the Jets took it way too far.
Crowder missed four games this season, Berrios was targeted 30 times in those games for just 192 yards, or just 6.4 yards per target. That mark is among the worst in the NFL.
Berrios is one of the few receivers in the NFL who have more yards before the catch than they do after the catch. He’s one of the least dynamic receivers in the NFL.
Berrios is second on the team in targets, receptions, and yards. The only receiver on the team with fewer yards per reception is Chris Hogan. Yet, the Jets continue to force-feed him the ball as if he’s a dynamic player.
This is another example of how Adam Gase’s scheme is so inflexible that the players don’t matter, only the role. It doesn’t matter who plays slot receiver or how good they are. If they play in the slot, they are going to see a high volume of targets. End of story.
That works when Jamison Crowder is putting up career numbers or Jarvis Landry is playing in the slot. It doesn’t work with Braxton Berrios.
Struggles on Special Teams
Berrios is even worse on special teams. He made his mark in 2019 by being a consistent returner. He didn’t break any for big gains, but he finished second in the league in yards per return. That was enough for the Jets to give him the job uncontested for 2020. That’s turned out to be a huge mistake.
So far this season, Berrios is averaging just 6.7 yards per return and has a long just 11 yards. He averaged 11.4 yards per return in 2019.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Berrios isn’t dynamic in space. He never has been. Even when in college Berrios only averaged 10.4 yards per return in his career. He has the speed and agility to make people miss when he gets a lane, but he struggles to get his own yards.
That was fine in 2019 when the Jets were playing one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, but it hasn’t worked in 2020 against much stiffer competition. Yet, the Jets trot him out there week in and week out. They’ve even given him a chance as a kick returner on top of his punt return duties.
The sad thing is, they don’t have a choice. Nobody else on the roster has experience as a successful return man in their career. That’s what happens when a team predetermines a role and doesn’t bring in any competition.
They’re stuck with one of the worst punt returners in the NFL.