The tight end position has recently become all but extinct in the Jets offense. In 2015 there were only 8 total catches by a tight end, so far this year there have been none. The team started 2016 with no notable tight ends on the roster, after letting Jace Amaro, previous draft pick and high hope, go in the off season. In week four, prior to the Seattle match up, the Jets claimed Austin Seferian-Jenkins off waivers, following his release from Tampa Bay. With injury to Eric Decker, extra offensive weapons are sorely needed and we may see Seferian-Jenkins debut in green and white against the Steelers.
The low down
Seferian-Jenkins was drafted out of Washington by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2014 draft. At 6’5″ tall, he was described as having terrific movement skills and receiving ability for a big man. “He has big hands. He’s a big target, and can run all the routes you want. Seferian-Jenkins is also a terror in the red zone.” said Charles Davis in 2014. Since being drafted, ASJ has flashed his pass catching ability in two seasons with the Bucs, but has been inconsistent and injury prone. He appeared in 9 games as a rookie (starting all) and only 7 in 2016 (starting 2) with a total of 21 receptions in both years and seven career touchdowns. He entered 2016 second on the Bucs depth chart. However, questions about commitment have been following ASJ since college. His draft profile suggested his could work harder on his physique and strength. He was also kicked out of Bucs practice during 2016 training camp for not knowing where to line up and seemed to have problems getting to grips with the scheme. This adds up to the fact that the Jets have taken a risk on a player with potential which has not been fully realised. What ASJ does have is the raw materials to be a key offensive weapon, if he can overcome the inconsistencies which have dogged his first two years.
Off field issuesUnfortunately, the risk around ASJ is not restricted to problems on the field. His release from the Bucs came following an a DUI arrest in September. This wasn’t his first offense; his draft stock was diminished by his arrest in March 2013 for DUI following a late-night car accident. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 364 days in jail, 363 of which were suspended. He was also suspended by the NCAA for one game. The 2016 incident was made worse by an embarrassing police tape which surfaced online after the event. The Bucs simply had enough, hence his availability for the Jets. Since arriving at Florham Park, ASJ has been quiet in terms of discussing his charge, stating “It’s a legal matter, I can’t explain that at this time,” but has been vocal in his appreciation of the opportunity the Jets have given him. He has been particularly appreciative of support from his team mates, especially Brandon Marshall, who has apparently pointed him in the direction of ‘resources’ available in Manhattan to help him overcome his difficulties. Todd Bowles has been clear that ASJ has to prove that he is worth the risk: “Of course, anybody coming in is going to say all the right things, but your actions speak louder than your words,” Bowles said but added “He has a clean slate with us. Going forward, we’ll see what he does.”
ASJ only practised once in week four so was never going to make an appearance against Seattle. However, this week he has been given a limited package of plays to learn and will play only if the Jets use those packages, according to Todd Bowles. Although he still doesn’t have an overall grasp of the offense, per Bowles, Seferian- Jenkins says he feels more comfortable after one week with his head in the play book. “If you’re only going to learn three or four packages….that helps a lot,” he said. With such a limited slice of the scheme involving him, ASJ is unlikely to set the offense on fire against Pittsburgh, but could bring a dimension that has been lacking in previous weeks, especially with Decker out. As he continues to get to grips with the system, we’ll likely see him make larger contributions week on week.
Lets just hope his other issues can be kept at bay.
–Photo Credit: TampaBay.com