New York Jets position group evaluations: Tight Ends

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each New York Jets position group within the organization and grade each group. Today’s group is one of the most encouraging groups on the roster. That is the tight end room. From a highly anticipated bounce back tight end to a standout veteran, to a potential diamond in the rough, this group is one of the best on the roster. So let’s get into it.

TE 1: Chris Herndon

Without a doubt, the most anticipated return on this roster is Chris Herndon. Last season, Herndon entered the year with very high hopes. After a suspension and an upper buddy injury, Herndon’s sophomore season was a bust. Now, he’s back, and he’s been a star of camp. Reporters have been consistent across the board in their lauding of how he will be the critical piece to Sam Darnold’s success. With the lack of receiver depth, Herndon will be counted on to play a significant role. As I previously wrote, Herndon will either be the X-Factor of the offense and the key reason Darnold takes the next step or the reason Darnold has nobody to turn to when the play breaks down.

TE 2: Ryan Griffin

Last season, without Herndon, many analysts wondered who’d step up at tight end. Those questions were quickly dispelled with the impressive play of Griffin. With 34 catches for 320 yards and five touchdowns, Griffin proved to be a huge red zone threat. If Herndon can be the dynamic threat over the top and outside (when need be), then Griffin will be able to play a huge role in red zone success. As long as both guys can stay healthy when the Jets put out two tight end sets, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Griffin does tend to struggle with consistency, though, so as long as he doesn’t become a non-factor, he’ll be a great piece of the offense.

TE 3: Trevon Wesco

The West Virginia product was a curious selection by the former front office regime when he was picked in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Wesco wouldn’t have been a controversial pick if he was known as a dynamic threat in the red zone or over the middle like the two other tight ends in the room, but he was traditionally known as a blocking tight end. Then, this offseason, he became a much more well-rounded athlete as Adam Gase has stated, and he’s found a real rhythm in camp reportedly. If Wesco can show in-game that he can be a weapon, that would only make the offense all the better.

Grade: A-

This group is FAR from a proven group. With that said, the way Douglas and Gase have built this group, they have potential to complement each other very nicely. Not only that but with the lack of depth at receiver, these guys will be counted on to step up. I truly believe this group has potential to shock some people this year and mask some of the Jets offensive inadequacies. 

New York Jets: Two offensive breakout candidates

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

The New York Jets have some familiar faces, on both sides of the ball, that can be expected to perform a certain way. There are some guys who have to prove themselves again, as well. Whatever their situation is, any of them can have a breakout season. However, some are more likely than others. So, here are two offensive candidates for a potential breakout season:

Le’Veon Bell

Bell was a big-name addition for this team last season. After a remarkable career with the Steelers, fans were hoping all of his skill and excitement would be translated in green and white. That didn’t necessarily happen. Now, Bell wasn’t “bad” in any sense, but his numbers weren’t on par with his Pittsburgh ones.

Le’Veon finished the 2019 season with 789 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground while adding 66 receptions for 461 yards and 1 touchdown. Those numbers are far down from his last season in Pittsburgh in 2017. That season he totaled 1,291 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns and 85 receptions for 655 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Yes, his yardage was drastically down, but he was probably expected to have a slight dropoff in that category. After all, he did sit out the entire 2018 season. For me, though, the biggest concern was the touchdown amount. For someone who is getting as much money as he is, the ball needs to be in the endzone more. Sure, the offense needs to move the ball more efficiently down the field to have more scoring chances, but there were opportunities to have more than 3 rushing touchdowns last season.

Le’Veon Bell has seemed extremely motivated and excited about the upcoming season. He has been seen doing intense workouts on social media and was really showing his excitement in this recent tweet from the New York Jets:

Bell has also predicted, via Twitter, that this season will be one of his best. That sure would be fantastic for fans and the team, who desperately needs Le’Veon to be a big part of this offense. With all of the skill, motivation and drive that Bell has, he could be in store for a big, breakout season.

Chris Herndon

Chris Herndon dealt with injuries all of last year and played in only one game as a result. As a rookie, he appeared in all 16 games, starting 12 of them. In that rookie season, he totaled 39 receptions for 502 yards and 4 touchdowns. Aside from the numbers, though, he showed tremendous upside and ability as a playmaker. His raw talent is evident, but he needs to stay on the field. If he does, he can really be special.

The third-year tight end has nowhere to go but up this season. If he stays on the field, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to be a breakout player. I’m sure Jets fans wouldn’t mind seeing him make plays like this again:

Since Ryan Griffin had a solid season last year with Sam Darnold, Herndon may have to fight for the right to a majority of the targets. Even if he gets fewer targets to some degree, he’s still capable of much more production. He’s a better athlete with more big-play ability. The season could very well be a breakout one for Herndon if he has the ability to show what he can do for the New York Jets.

The X-factor for the New York Jets’ offensive lies at tight end

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

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.

Chris Herndon

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. 

New York Jets: Chris Herndon is ready to roll, but learned one essential thing in 2019

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The injury bug thumped the New York Jets in 2019, and while the defense was primarily affected the most, tight end, Chris Herndon also fell ill. Herndon was placed on injured reserve last season after the Jets beat their crosstown rival Giants 34-27. Herndon suffered a fractured rib and was unable to continue on the season, coming after his fall game suspension to open the year.

While Herndon caught just one pass in the game, he didn’t receive the continuity and live reps needed to reach his peak last year fully. The second your product out of Miami had a stellar rookie season in 2018, catching 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns. Missing four games to open the year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy undoubtedly hurt his efficiency and readiness upon his return.

The New York Jets managed to supplement the loss of Herndon well:

Ryan Griffin stepped in valiantly and played well, solidifying himself as a starter among the tight ends. I imagine the Jets will play a lot of 12 personnel this year to get both Herndon and Griffin involved in the passing and run game.

According to newyorkJets.com, Herndon is smoldering in his desire to bounce back from a troubled season:

“It wasn’t ideal how everything played out,” Herndon said. “I wish it could’ve gone the opposite way, but for me, it was definitely a year where I was forced to sit down and really just learn. [I] use it as a learning experience — how quick one injury, one decision, how fast things can be taken from you. Also, just learn to appreciate those things because like they say, you never know how much you miss something until it’s gone. It was a big learning year for me, but I’m ready.”

If there is anything Herndon gained from a tumultuous 2019 campaign, it was the idea of appreciation. He noted that everything can be taken away from you just as fast as it’s given, and sitting and learning could have been the best experience for him yet. Working hard and appreciating the opportunity he has to play at the NFL level is something players forget often. The money and fame come with a lot of additional issues, but staying the course and remaining committed is the key.

“I’m continuing to learn it each and every day, detail each assignment, each play,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of mental notes as well as physical notes and studying the notes when we’re done with our virtual meetings right now. I feel like I’m still coming along. You should never feel like you know everything. Continue to learn and continue to keep an open mind. That’s when good things tend to happen.”

It is clear that Herndon took something away from this tumultuous season last year, and he is ready to hit the field running with newfound confidence and respect for the process. If Chris and Ryan griffin can establish themselves as one of the best tight end duos in the league, Sam Darnold is going to have a field day moving forward.

New York Jets: Chris Herndon preparing to finally break out in 2020?

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The New York Jets have one playmaker ready to make a comeback:

During his rookie season 2018, New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon was one of the most polarizing players at the position. As a fourth-round pick, he earned 39 receptions with four touchdowns. He tallied 502 receiving yards, trailing behind only Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens, who was having a career season. Herndon has the pass-catching potential to be an elite option of the NFL level, but injuries and suspensions have hurt his young career.

In 2019, he played in just one game, logging one reception for 7 yards. Going into his third season in the NFL, the Jets have high expectations for the 24-year-old tight end. They also have Ryan Griffin, who excelled at the position in his absence. Griffin posted 320 yards and five touchdowns, compiling an 82.9% catch rate, which is unbelievably high for any position player.

Playing a lot of 12 personnel could be in the future for the Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who will now have two more than capable tight ends.

Conor Hughes of The Athletic stated that the Jets can’t wait to unleash Herndon in 2020.

“The team had sky-high expectations for their tight end entering last season, but a league-imposed suspension and injuries limited him to just one healthy quarter.”

Ultimately, he can feature as one of their primary playmakers from a blocking standpoint in the run game to receiving option in the passing game. His versatility makes him extremely exceptional in all facets, but remaining healthy has been a challenge for him up to this point. He finished 2019 on injured reserve with a rib injury.

Nonetheless, the Jets should have a rebuilt offense with a brand new offensive line and protection scheme. The hope is that the line can hold up in pass protection, giving Herndon and Griffen the freedom to run routes frequently and not block to compensate for weak tackle-play. Drafting Mekhi Becton should help Darnold’s blind-side significantly.

The Philadelphia Eagles Rise Above the New York Jets

New York Jets, Avery Williamson

The New York Jets lost another one. They now have started the season 0-4. A team with so much hope has had a very tough start to their season. There’s a lot to dive into from this game so here goes nothing.

Offensive Line Needs An Overhaul

The Jets offensive line has been horrific to watch this season. Like, historically bad. The Jets allowed 10 sacks in Sunday’s game against Philly. Yes, their defensive line is good but not THAT good. The Jets shouldn’t have played as poorly as they did at offensive line. The ”changes” that Adam Gase made really didn’t do very much. The offensive line still couldn’t guard a pee wee football edge rush. Quite frankly they’ve got to get it together. It’s hard to watch. It’s scary that our franchise guy will come back from a dangerous illness and end up behind that terrible offensive line. They’ve got to get it together and at the very least make it through the season without Belk or Darnold getting destroyed.

The Defense Has Played Really Well

The offense has been absolutely pitiful. Obviously injuries, offensive line play, and poor coaching made that happen. However, the defense, on the other hand, has been really good. The main issue with them is that they either have to play defense when the opposing offense has amazing field position or they are exhausted because they’re constantly on the field. Gregg Williams and that defense have dealt with just as many issues as the Jets offense and yet, the defense has been really damn good. That might just be a reflection of coaching but I mean what do I know.

The Play Calling Is An Issue

Unlike some New York Jets fans, I won’t call for Adam Gase’s dismissal. However, he does deserve a lot of blame for the poor start and poor take yesterday. The fact is, Adam Gase doesn’t have a good situation. His star QB is out, his blockers stink and he can’t revolve the offense around key guys if the QB can’t get the ball to them. Luke Falk has performed pretty bad but in his defense, he’s played the last two Super Bowl champs and had little preparation. With that said, an ”innovator”, ”offensive genius” and a ”guy who knows where the game is heading” should be able to produce something on offense. Those were all words labeled to Gase by Chris Johnson. If you’re all those things then you don’t have the defense with as many touchdowns as your offense through 4 games. Gase needs to prove why he’s here and not why he shouldn’t be.

Brighter Days Ahead

Brandon Copeland and Chris Herndon are guaranteed to return to the team this week. Jordan Jenkins, C.J. Mosley, and Sam Darnold could possibly return as well. This team has a much brighter outlook with those 5 on it. Hopefully, this squad comes back to normal with their returns but it all starts at the top and Gase needs to get their act together.

New York Jets: Jets vs Giants Preseason Week 1 Preview

New York Jets

The wait is over, New York Jets football is finally back. The Jets finally play their first opponent of the 2019 NFL season. Sure, it may just be preseason but it’s nice to see the Jets get on the field against people who are not wearing green and white. The New York Giants will be hosting the Jets in the annual “Snoopy Bowl” this year at MetLife Stadium this Thursday to see who will have bragging rights until week 10 when both teams meet again for round 2. Obviously, neither team will have their stars out, but it is a very good opportunity for players who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the roster a chance to shine. What better way for the New York Jets to start their new era of football by beating their bigger brother for a chance to finally reign supreme. Here are some things to look out for this Thursday night.

What to expect from Adam Gase?

Adam Gase got a second chance to be a head coach in this league and he doesn’t intend on messing it up. There are many reasons Gase wasn’t successful in Miami but probably the biggest reason was the fact he didn’t know how to call plays. Adam Gase has a history of doing very short yardage throws on second and long and third and long. This can’t happen here in New York. Adam Gase has gone on record before stating that he wants to be more aggressive in his play-calling, and what better way to experiment than in the preseason against a young, up and coming Giants secondary. If Adam Gase wants to avoid being a failure in New York, he must do the opposite of everything he did in Miami.

Position battles to look for

The preseason is the best way to test for players who are battling for a starting or backup role on the roster. The New York Jets certainly do not have a shortage of battles going on and these are some to keep an eye out for.

Tight end

The Jets are pretty set at tight end this year but with Chris Herndon missing the first four weeks due to suspension the Jets will have to see which one of their young tight ends can fill in and be a reliable target for Sam Darnold. The two main competitors are Daniel Brown and Trevon Wesco. Wesco seems to have the upper hand against Brown because he’s had a very good training camp with the team.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wesco listed as the starting tight end at the beginning of the year.

QB No. 3

The Jets have another QB battle going on this year, thankfully not for the starting spot. The Jets are looking for someone to groom into a backup for Sam Darnold the next couple of years. Luke Falk and Davis Webb are the two guys the Jets are looking at. Falk has had a history with Adam Gase being the third-string QB in Miami last year until he landed on the IR October 5th. Davis Webb, on the other hand, has no relation to Adam Gase but he does have a pedigree that Falk doesn’t. Webb was a third-round pick for the Giants back in 2017 and shows potential. Webb Hoists a howitzer for an arm but doesn’t have the accuracy to match up with it. It’ll be interesting to see which QB will edge out because as of right now there isn’t a clear front runner.

Kicker

The Jets currently have just one kicker on the roster, Chandler Catanzaro. So, who is Catanzaro competing with you might ask? The answer is Catanzaro is competing with himself. Catanzaro is having one of the worst camps this year missing a lot of kicks. The Jets have had a hole at kicker ever since Nick Folk left the team back in 2016. The Jets have lucked out with their kicker situation the past couple of years getting castoffs like Jason Meyers and Catanzaro to have good years, but this might be the end of that little streak. If Catanzaro continues to struggle don’t be surprised to see Joe Douglas seek another kicker when cuts are being made. A couple of names to watch are players like Mason Crosby and the training camp favorite from 2016 and 2017 Ross Martin.

Potential diamonds in the rough

The Jets have had their fair share of training camp standouts this year and they’ll finally get to show off what they can really do against the actual competition. This is where you find players like Robby Anderson who a couple of years ago was in the same position as many of the young players grinding for a spot on the 53. A couple of names to watch are players like Tim White, Kyron Brown, Blake Cashman and Derrick Jones.

 

 

New York Jets: Chris Herndon Shows Promise for the Jets

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The New York Jets seemed to have found their tight end weapon, Chris Herndon. The Patriots had always had Gronk. The dominant tight end who made sure Tom Brady always had a safety option in worst-case scenarios and a prominent red zone target. The Jets have longed for success similar to the Patriots and they may have found their version of Rob Gronkowski.

Herndon is far from similar to Gronk but he can be a HUGE part of success for the Jets offense and especially Sam Darnold. When Herndon finally hit his stride and got comfortable, he finished the season with 502 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 39 receptions. Herndon looked primed for another great season after proving himself as a stud young tight end last season. Then he violated the substance abuse policy and now he’ll be out for the first four games of the season which just happen to be four of the most important games of the season. Herndon dropped the ball and let his personal troubles hinder not only his own but the rest of the Jets success.

His return from the suspension

Herndon will return against the Cowboys and be around the team for the rest of the season. He’ll be the security blanket for Sam Darnold in a red-zone threat. Darnold will now just have to learn how to operate with Herndon’s temporary replacement. Herndon will have to not only reintroduce himself to the squad but earn all the respect right back. Herndon has a long road ahead of him. However, the 12 games he’ll be available for will still make a significant difference. Herndon has gained a lot of attention, where he’ll need to come back firing on all cylinders.

New York Jets: Who is Ryan Griffin and What Does he Bring?

New York Jets sign Ryan Griffin.

The New York Jets have signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin. Griffin, a former 6th round pick in 2013, has been a perennial backup his entire career only amassing 136 receptions and 1,491 receiving yards over the span of his 6-year career. Griffin’s best year came in 2016 where he logged 50 receptions for 442 yards and 2 touchdowns.

What to expect from Griffin?

Griffin comes on to the team with a legitimate chance to secure a roster spot. Due to Chris Herndon’s 4 game suspension, Griffin could find himself starting if 4th round pick Trevon Wesco doesn’t impress in camp. Griffin provides veteran insurance in a tight end room whose most experienced player is Eric Tomlinson.

The Jets offense will surely struggle without their top tight end option helping in the passing attack, but Griffin is capable and can fill in while Herndon serves his suspension. He won’t light up the field in any specific way, but he’s a serviceable backup for the time being.

Hopefully, quarterback Sam Darnold can utilize his new weapons in Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder to mask the loss at TE.

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Projected New York Jets starting tight ends: Chris Herndon (4 game suspension), Trevon Wesco (rookie), Daniel Brown, Ryan Griffin.

The New York Jets need potential draft steal Trevon Wesco to make an impact

New York Jets, Trevon Wesco

The suspension of rising tight end Chris Herndon for the first four games of the season will put a dent in the offense for the New York Jets. His pass-catching ability and blocking skills will be missed, but the Jets did draft a potential draft steal in Trevon Wesco.

With the 121st overall pick in the fourth round, the Jets drafted who NFL analyst Brian Baldinger calls, “BabyGronk.”

While this is certainly an optimistic statement, Wesco is a mountain of a man, standing at 6’3″ and roughly 270 pounds. Using his size to be a three-position player (Y,F, and H), he can be an impact player on a Jets team that will miss Herndon during his suspension.

The offense doesn’t have a proven backup and it will hurt the play-calls Sam Darnold can run, but Wesco might be able to open the playbook back up.

The New York Jets need their rookie TE to develop quickly:

Wesco is behind on the depth chart — he will need to beat out Eric Tomlinson and Ryan Griffin to earn reps, but his size might be enticing enough to get him on the field. Tomlinson has been known for missed assignments and drive-killing penalties.

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The West Virginia product was a great option for Will Grier last season, hauling in 26 passes for 366 yards in 10 games (Sports-Reference). His frame could make for a solid red zone target for Darnold in the passing game. The Jets’ quarterback doesn’t have a true red-zone target, but I imagine they will look to utilize Le’Veon Bell early and often in those situations.

Trevon is sneaky off the line of scrimmage. He’s a primary blocker which only helps his unpredictability in the passing game. Averaging 14.1 yards per reception attests to his ability to expose the seam and make plays over the middle. That’s how the Jets and Adam Gase should look to extract the most value out of the rookie.