The New York Jets went into last night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons without Santonio Holmes, so there were concerns about how effective the passing attack would be without its No. 1 receiver. The team needed some of its other options to step up, and Jeremy Kerley and Jeff Cumberland responded in a big way.
Kerley had 5 receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown, while Cumberland caught 3 balls for 79 yards and a touchdown. They more than made up for the absence of Holmes, and they showed that the Jets could have a very well rounded passing attack as they continue to develop.
With Holmes out, Kerley took over as Geno Smith’s go to target, and he showed how effective he can be working the middle of the field. Kerley is a very good slot receiver, and he is quick, runs good routes and has reliable hands. He has been a little bit lost in the emergence of Holmes and Stephen Hill as the top targets in the passing game, but Monday served as a reminder of what Kerley can do with the ball in his hands.
Cumberland had an excellent preseason, but most of his production came catching passes thrown by Mark Sanchez, not Smith. Cumberland and Smith never seemed to click until late in last week’s game, when they hooked up for a 34 yard touchdown. Marty Mornhinweg wanted to make a point of getting Cumberland the ball more this week, and it proved to be a great decision.
Cumberland easily found space between the linebackers and safeties on seam routes, and he made a great catch off a pinpoint throw from Smith on his touchdown reception. Cumberland is a big, athletic tight end who the Jets believe has a world of potential, and he is starting to become more effective in the offense.
Holmes will miss at least next week’s game, if not longer, so the Jets need this increased production to continue. The threat of Kerley and Cumberland inside will serve to open up the outside of the field for Holmes and Hill, and it force the safeties to stay out of the box, making things easier for the run game.
Their emergence is a huge step towards the Jets becoming a complete offense, and if this trend continues expect the Jets’ production to improve significantly.