Save for Santonio Holmes, the New York Jets have lacked offensive weapons for a few years now — and it has come back to haunt them in a big way. Not only has a lack of weapons affected Mark Sanchez in the past, it’s affecting current incumbent quarterback Geno Smith.
In the past few drafts, the Jets have ignored the offense and focused more on defense, and it has paid dividends, but the offense has paid for it. Currently, the Jets are one of the worst offensive teams in the NFL; gang green is ranked 31st in points produced (17.1) and 30th in passing yards (181.4).
There are no playmakers on the team. No, Geno Smith hasn’t exactly played good football, but it’s not 100 percent his fault. The rookie quarterback needs help and his wide receivers haven’t been there for him. With Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes dealing with injuries this whole season, you’d think that the Jets’ other receivers would take the opportunity to step up — they haven’t.
One of the culprits is Stephen Hill.
The Jets’ second-year wide receiver Stephen Hill was supposed to be the team’s No. 1 go-to guy, even with Santonio Holmes on the roster. The Jets drafted Hill in the second-round (43rd pick) of the 2012 NFL Draft with hopes of making the speedy receiver their offensive weapon, but that project has yet to come to fruition. In his rookie season, Hill finished with 21 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns but also had several critical drops in important games. Hill showed some promise a few weeks into his second season; in his first game the receiver had six receptions for 39 yards. In his second game, Hill picked up his production and finished with eight receptions for 86 yards. Hill blew up in the third game against the Buffalo Bills, finishing with six receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown, but that would be the last time he would do anything of significance — Hill will most likely be shut down for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Yet another Jets draft bust. Great. Guess who was picked two picks later? Alshon Jeffery; the Chicago Bears picked the 6-foot-3 receiver out of South Carolina with the 45th overall pick.
How did that work out?
The Bears must be counting their lucky stars that they found a gem in Jeffery. The second-year receiver is having a great year; in his second season, Jeffery has picked his production up a lot from his rookie year, hauling in 75 passes for 1,193 yards and six touchdowns — and this is with him lining up opposite of Brandon Marshall.
So why did the Jets not draft Jeffery? They made the mistake of going for speed instead of talent.
At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Jeffery is the prototypical wide receiver. No, he didn’t have breakaway speed, but some scouts believed he had the best hands in the draft. He’s strong, agile, and as he’s shown this season, has an outstanding vertical that makes him a major threat in the redone — and more importantly, he can catch.
Oh, what could have been.