New York Jets – Have The Receivers Improved From 2019?

Matt Gianesses on if the New York Jets wide receiver group has improved from last year…

Matt Gianesses on the state of the Jets WRs and how they compare to last year’s.

A recent Bleacher Report article ranked every NFL QB’s supporting cast for 2020. To the surprise of none, the Jets were ranked 30/32. I for one, think It’d be smart for the Jets to surround their 23-year-old QB with competence by his 3rd NFL season, but maybe that’s just me. Thankfully it’s not, as GM Joe Douglas seems to agree. He rightfully spent the majority of the team’s expenses addressing the OL this offseason. As a result, the WR position was neglected once again. But is the position in worse shape than it was last year? Let’s explore.

2019 WRs

  • Robby Anderson
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Quincy Enunwa
  • Braxton Berrios
  • Vyncint Smith
  • Josh Bellamy

Projected 2020 WRs

  • Breshad Perriman
  • Denzel Mims
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Braxton Berrios
  • Vyncint Smith
  • Demaryius Thomas round 2?
  • IR: Quincy Enunwa

The big difference here is the loss of Robby Anderson and additions of Perriman and Mims. In order to evaluate which Jets receiving core is better, we must first determine the magnitude of Robby Anderson’s departure.

Robby was a good player whose most important trait wasn’t speed, but chemistry with Sam Darnold. 11 of Darnold’s 36 career touchdowns were thrown to Robby (30.5%), while the other 69.5% of touchdowns were to 14 others. Crazy. Anderson often made plays that displayed spectacular hand strength, despite his deceiving thin frame. His ability to get behind the secondary is undeniably rare, but it wasn’t what the Jets needed most from a WR.

Robby’s style of play is often contingent on the offensive line. Home run plays take time to develop, and the Jets offensive line simply couldn’t buy any. Jets fans are all too familiar with Robby playing great one week, then disappearing the next two. Having a burner like him is more of a luxury than a necessity. He’s not WR1. I think Robby is somewhere between underrated by the average NFL fan, and overrated by the average Jets fan. The Jets really need a consistent wide receiver with a larger route tree and catch radius.

The team replaced Robby with journeyman Breshad Perriman. The Jets are Perriman’s fourth team, despite him being only 26 years old. A former first-round draft pick by BAL, Perriman struggled to establish himself everywhere he’s gone. He did have an impressive backend of 2019, catching 25 balls for 506 yards and 5 TDs over the last 5 games. Perriman’s resume is not as impressive as Robby Anderson’s, but he does provide the team with even better speed (sub 4.3 40) and a bigger body for Sam Darnold.

On the side opposite of Perriman will (hopefully) be Denzel Mims. Mims was the Jets second round choice from Baylor, (Potential first rounder who slipped to the Jets at #59). Mims chose number 11, (Robby Anderson’s old number) and can help Jets fans forget him if his play meets his expectations. Like Perriman, Mims is also a very fast (4.38 40-yard dash), and a large body for Darnold (6’3”, 207 lbs). His combination of age, speed, and size is something for Jets fans to be excited about. If Mims learns to get solid separation at the pro level, he can be something special.

Jamison Crowder will play the slot again in 2020. Crowder is one of the better slot guys in the league. He’s a quick, twitchy, reliable player with an already established relationship with the QB. Expect Crowder to lead the Jets in targets as long as Adam Gase is running the offense. He finished 4th in receptions among all slot receivers in 2019.

Players like Vyncint Smith and Braxton Berrios provide the Jets with respectable depth and serve as good special teams players. I’m comfortable calling either an NFL caliber #4 or #5 receiver. Why? Young and fast. Trialed NFL experience. Familiarity with the offense. The Jets would love to see one of them expand into an even larger role this season. They’d also like to avoid the Jeff Smiths of the world getting playing time again.

The overall condition of the WR group is better than it was last year, even without Robby Anderson. Would it be better than it is now if Anderson was retained over Perriman? Probably. But the drop off between him and Perriman isn’t significant enough to disregard the addition of Denzel Mims. Assuming Mims takes a year to develop, the Jets WRs will likely be a below average group again in 2020. If so, the team will look to use Le’Veon Bell and Chris Herndon to mitigate the group’s struggles.