The New York Jets have seen a plethora of talent come and go this offseason. From new signings to exits, to draft picks, to trades, to opt-outs. The Jets’ entire organization has been reshaped in Joe Douglas’s image. It’s only the beginning. That’s why these Jets will decide whether or not the team has success in the upcoming season.
In 2018, Chris Herndon broke onto the scene in a BIG way. Herndon took his rookie year as an opportunity to become a safety net for Sam Darnold. Their relationship blossomed over the season, and he finished the season with 39 receptions for 509 receiving yards and 4 TDs.
Then, Herndon faced a suspension and a foot injury that derailed his 2019 campaign. Now, with the absence of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, the Jets need a dynamic threat over the middle for Sam Darnold. Looking at another young QB in Lamar Jackson, his go-to target for the bulk of last season was Mark Andrews, in 2018, he put up similar numbers to Herndon.
Andrews finished with 34 receptions for 552 yards and three scores. Andrews then took a massive jump in 2019 when he caught 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 TDs. If you look at his average yards per catch, it’s around an average of 14.3 for his two seasons in the league. So, why is that important, because Herndon is in a similar realm with an average of 12.9 yards per catch.
This is of value because it demonstrates how often these guys are used over the middle. The two are similar pass catchers, and when Lamar had a stable connection with Mark Andrews, it opened everything up.
Having Andrews over the middle provides a safety net for him to take big shots. It also opened up the run game by taking either the middle linebacker or the strong safety out of the picture fairly regularly. This played a factor in the Ravens having one of the best rushing attacks in football history last year.
Now, I’m not saying Herndon is going to do all that for the Jets. What I am saying, though, is looking at the Ravens skill players, there are no big-name receivers, similarly to the Jets. What they did have was excellent game planning based around the pound you in the mouth rushing attack, the mobility of Lamar Jackson, and most importantly, in this case, a reliable tight end over the middle.
The Jets invested a lot of financial resources, and draft picks towards the betterment of the offensive line. Not only that, but they selected LaMical Perine and Frank Gore to back up Le’Veon Bell. All three backs are patient and physical rushers capable of pounding you in the mouth consistently. So with two of the three keys to what the Ravens have going for them potentially fulfilled, that puts a lot of pressure on Herndon to step up. He won’t be alone though; Ryan Griffin, who had an awe-inspiring season last year with the team, will be counted on to step up in two tight end sets and provide veteran leadership to the 24-year-old tight end.