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NFL New York Jets

New York Jets Still Look Weak at Wide Receiver

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

While everyone focuses on the quarterback competition for the New York Jets, a bigger concern could be wondering who that quarterback is going to throw the ball to.

The Jets did nothing in the draft to improve a lackluster group of receivers. Currently the top three receivers are Santonio Holmes — coming off an ankle injury — Stephen Hill — he of the 45% catch rate last season — and Jeremy Kerley — the 5’9″ slot receiver, who is the closest pass catcher on the roster to being considered a “weapon.”

The Jets had a chance to bring in returner/receiver Josh Cribbs, but they determined his knee was not in good enough shape to play immediately. Immediate health should be a factor in signing free agents if the plan is to compete from Week 1, but that doesn’t seem to be the plan for the Jets this season. Cribbs could have been brought in and eased into a system that is going to be new for every offensive player.

Maybe Cribbs is back to 100% by Week 8, a time that could see Geno Smith named the starter even if Mark Sanchez starts the season or a time when Smith is finding his groove if he’s started from Week 1. With the lack of receiving talent, taking a short-term view of “he’s not healthy enough for us right now” can’t be the way to look at things.

There are some other outside options if the Jets are interested in taking that avenue — they should be. Steve Breaston is still on the market after getting cut by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the offseason. Breaston is only 29 years old and was an above average receiver — in terms of Football Outsiders’ DVOA — from 2009-2011. Last season he spent a majority of Kansas City’s games on the inactive list after falling out of favor with head coach Romeo Crennel, but no one should look too close into any decisions made by Crennel as a head coach. From 2008-2011 Breaston had 3,221 receiving yards, only 248 yards less than Holmes in that span and only one of those seasons with a competent quarterback.

Another option could be former New York Giant Ramses Barden. Barden never fully found his way into the Giants’ receiving rotation, but at 6’7″ there has to be some use for him in an offense. A tall receiver like that could be a useful piece in the red zone or a security blanket to just throw the ball up for a young, terrified quarterback — or Geno Smith. Most remember Barden’s 138-yard game Week 3 last season showing he has the potential if given an opportunity.

In one way or another the Jets need to improve at the receiver position. Maybe one of the undrafted free agents they signed might become the next Victor Cruz, but the odds on that are highly unlikely. If the Jets don’t improve the people catching the ball, it won’t really matter who’s throwing it.

 

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