No one knows who the Jets’ quarterback will be in 2017. A bigger question, though, is who will the starter throw to with a receiving corps marked by suspensions, injuries, and a lack of experience?
The unit suffered another potential loss over the weekend when receiver Robby Anderson was charged for resisting arrest with violence and obstruction of a police officer after an incident at a Miami music festival. Anderson, 23, attended the Rolling Loud Festival where he allegedly fought with security after being told to leave. He refused, which led a Miami police lieutenant to get involved.
"[Anderson] was redirected to the ground and continued to fight with police and security,” the police report said, via the NY Daily News.
The Jets released a statement saying, “This is a pending legal matter and we will have no further comment at this time.”
Anderson, who amassed 587 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season, could possibly face a suspension, another blow to an offense that looks like it’s in for a long season.
Injuries are nothing new to the Jets’ receivers. Eric Decker, coming off a 1,000-yard season in 2015, saw his 2016 campaign end in October after he suffered a gruesome shoulder injury.
Then, New York leaned heavily on No. 1 wideout Brandon Marshall. He put up some of the lowest numbers in his All-Pro career: 59 catches for 788 yards and three scores. He signed with the New York Giants, leaving the Jets without a bona-fide go-to option.
Devin Smith, a second-round pick in 2015, tore his ACL late in his rookie campaign. He started his sophomore season on the PUP list and only played in four games. He’ll miss the 2017 season due to another ACL tear on the same knee.
Jalin Marshall is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy. As a rookie, Marshall corralled 14 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns and was also the team’s return man. However, he struggled in that department, coughing up the ball four times. The Jets will have to wait four games to see if the sophomore receiver improved from last year.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will serve a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The Jets picked up Seferian-Jenkins last season after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers parted ways with him. He failed to make much of an impact in seven games with the Jets.
Anderson’s arrest means another Jets receiver is facing a possible suspension.
Inexperience and uncertainty
Quincy Enunwa will likely be the team’s primary option with training camp right around the corner. He registered 58 receptions for 857 yards and four touchdowns in 2016.
This offseason, the Jets added Quinton Patton in free agency. Patton spent his first four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, where he didn't earn a lot of playing time. He only has 73 receptions for 880 yards and one touchdown in his career.
The Jets drafted two receivers this year. New York used its third-round selection on Alabama’s ArDarius Stewart and spent a fourth-round pick on California’s Chad Hansen. The Jets followed up those two selections by drafting Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett in the fifth round.
Stewart is a speed demon who averaged 16 yards per reception at Alabama in 2016. Most of his yards came after the catch, something the Jets will need to take advantage of in their game planning this season.
Hansen caught 92 balls for 1,249 yards and 11 scores at California in 2016. He’s a big-bodied receiver who can snag 50-50 balls. Hansen could be a reliable option for moving the chains.
Leggett has the size to work the middle of the field. Standing at 6’5, 258 pounds, the Clemson product makes for a huge target running down the seam. His college numbers hint at big-play ability, averaging 16 yards per reception last year and 13.8 for his collegiate career.
The Jets are no strangers to playing undrafted free agent receivers, so Washington State’s Gabe Marks could get a chance to contribute, too.
These three players could be game-changers in the future, but it might take some time for the Jets to groom them into NFL-caliber players as they get acclimated to the NFL’s game speed and sharpen their technique.
The Jets’ receiving corps is just like their quarterback situation: a lot of uncertainty. They’ll have to find a way to move the ball with this cast of receivers. If they can't, this will be another long year for Gang Green.