A lot of peculiar things happened during the New York Jets‘ Week 1 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Although none were more strange than the team’s wide receiver usage.
This opened up the door for some other wideouts on the roster to seize a bigger role, or so we thought.
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Interesting Choice for Wide Receiver Rotation
Here was the wide receiver rotation on Sunday, September 12 versus the Panthers (via ESPN):
- Corey Davis (53 snaps)
- Elijah Moore (51 snaps)
- Braxton Berrios (33 snaps)
- Jeff Smith (9 snaps)
- Denzel Mims (3 snaps)
In a game that had the Jets missing two key cogs in the passing game, there was one receiver who still couldn’t crack the rotation: Denzel Mims.
Heading into the Week 2 home opener versus the New England Patriots, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said there’s a chance both Cole and Crowder are able to return. Keelan is considered “day-to-day” and Jamison’s status is up to the COVID protocols.
That will make it even harder for Mims to crack the lineup, but why didn’t he play more in the season opener?
2nd Year Wideout Gets Blasted by HC
During Saleh’s weekly Monday presser, he was asked about the lack of Mims usage versus the Panthers and he didn’t hold anything back:
“A majority of our reps went to Davis, Moore, and Berrios. Part of it was the sequence of the game and that’s why those receivers played. Mims has been doing a little bit better each day but he’s not one of the main three so he has to know all three spots and at a high level,” Saleh told reporters on September 13.
“If the Z, F, or the X needs a break you can be the guy that steps in. At the end of the game some of those guys needed a break and he got a chance to step in.”
In other words, Mims isn’t one of the top guys and wasn’t on Sunday even with the issues with Cole and Crowder. On top of not being one of the lead dogs for the Jets, he doesn’t know all of the three wide receiver spots at a high level, so he isn’t capable, according to Saleh, of stepping in to fill a hole when it’s available unless it’s an emergency.
Only when the Jets had absolutely nowhere else to turn at the end of the game did Mims get a chance to show what he had.
In those limited opportunities, the second-year wideout made big things happen highlighted by his lone reception for a 40-yard gain which set up rookie quarterback Zach Wilson for his second touchdown of the game.
Mims finished with the highest offensive grade on the team (80.9), per PFF.
Saleh following his presser made an appearance on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio and expanded upon his Mims comments:
“Denzel can really elevate his game and availability is when you are the No. 4 receiver or next man up you have to know all three spots (Z, F, X) so you can get in there. If he can know all those positions he can really help himself out. You are reliable from a play-calling standpoint if you can do those things,” Saleh told Kay.
This is a disappointing turn of events for a player that was highly thought of when he was selected with the No. 59 overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.
After his rookie season, while they were just glimpses, he showed massive amounts of potential as a big-framed receiver who could dominate in the red zone, win 50-50 matchups, and be a deep threat for this team.
Although it looks like the writing is on the wall and outside of a major injury to one of the key stars (Moore or Davis), Mims isn’t going to make the impact a lot of people dreamed of this season.
Several of the beat reporters following these intense comments from Saleh believe Mims could find himself inactive against the Patriots in Week 2. This would be quite the fall from grace and continues to put a huge damper on general manager Joe Douglas’ initial draft class.