Kelvin Benjamin among Bills wideouts dropping the ball

The Vikings' Xavier Rhodes breaks up a pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin last Sunday in Minneapolis. Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Wide receivers for the Buffalo Bills began last season on a historically bad pace. Their production this season has been better, but not by much.

Bills wideouts have 21 catches through Week 3, an NFL low, and 250 receiving yards, fourth-worst in the league. The Bills have one touchdown caught by a wide receiver and have been credited by ESPN Stats & Information with five drops among their wide receivers, a drops-per-target rate of 11.1 percent that is the NFL's worst.

Kelvin Benjamin, who made it clear two weeks ago that he is the team's No. 1 receiver, has only six catches and 58 receiving yards through three games.

"God damn, [have] we been throwing at all?" Benjamin said Thursday when asked to react to his stat line. "But to be honest, man, it is what it is. We got 13 games left. We all know the last 13 games, a dude could go crazy each game. I'm just working, man. Just getting better. Feeling good. We gonna keep grinding and keep building this relationship with Josh [Allen]."

Allen has been throwing it to Benjamin, but the former first-round receiver -- whom general manager Brandon Beane spent third- and seventh-round picks to acquire last October -- has struggled to catch some of the rookie quarterback's passes.

ESPN Stats & Information has dinged Benjamin for two drops so far this season, both of which could have been touchdowns: a third-quarter pass in Buffalo's opener at Baltimore that Allen fired into Benjamin's chest in the end zone, and a first-quarter throw in Sunday's victory at Minnesota that Benjamin could not control a few yards shy of the goal line.

"I think it was just me trying to hurry up and reach the ball out and try to get in the end zone," Benjamin said Thursday. "I was thinking touchdown. Just catch the ball. If I would've caught it, it still would've been a first down and we still would've had a good red-zone percentage [of a touchdown]."

Benjamin's two drops on his 14 targets this season tie him with the Jets' Terrelle Pryor as third among NFL wide receivers in drops-per-target this season. Among 83 qualifying wide receivers, only Minnesota's Laquon Treadwell and Miami's Kenny Stills have dropped a higher rate of their targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Undrafted rookie Robert Foster (two) and veteran Andre Holmes (one) account for the remaining three drops by Bills wide receivers this season.

Overall, Benjamin's six catches on his 14 targets -- a rate of 42.9 percent -- rank him second-worst among the 83 qualifying wide receivers. Only Jacksonville's Donte Moncrief has caught a lower percentage of his targets.

Benjamin and 2017 second-round pick Zay Jones, who has started all three games opposite Benjamin, have a combined 12 catches on 24 targets for 164 yards this season. All of those marks are the lowest among each team's top two receivers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Benjamin (1.33) and Jones (1.83) also rank second-worst and fifth-worst, respectively, in yards after catch per reception among 83 qualifying NFL wide receivers.

Jones, who has started all three games at wide receiver opposite Benjamin, has six catches for 106 yards this season. He leads Buffalo in receiving yards, but has the NFL's lowest rate of receptions per route run (6.8 percent) among 83 qualifying wide receivers and second-lowest rate of targets per route run (11.4 percent), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"You can only control what you can control," Jones said Thursday. "You can't pick out where the ball is going. Quarterbacks have to deliver it. As receivers, just trying to work on separation, trying to be a viable option, being dependable, letting Josh know that this guy always gets open or is always in the right spot. For me, it's trying to create separation.

"It's difficult to play receiver. You always have to be mentally in tune to the game. Because maybe you don't get a ball the entire first half and one comes to you in the third, or whatever the case is. Always staying ready. As far as where the ball goes, I can't control that."

Some of the lack of production from Benjamin and Jones has been out of their control. Allen set a franchise record in Week 2, his first career start, by attempting passes to 11 different receivers. And after the Bills built a 27-point halftime lead Sunday, Allen attempted only four passes in the second half.

Both Jones and Benjamin believe improvement is on the horizon.

"It's just throws after practice," Jones said. "Talking about things. Me and Josh were working on a route today, specifically. Just having that repetition of me catching it, him throwing a nice ball. That confidence to carry over into the game. Sometimes things start slow and pick up. As the season goes, I know this group will progress. The main thing that we keep in perspective is that we win football games. If we're dead last in targets but winning games, what really matters, you know?"

Added Benjamin: "I'm used to coming out early in the season and having success and already having like 300 yards and some touchdowns. But at the same time, it's still a long season. We [are] working. There's a lot of things we've got to get connected on. Timing is one. It's just [getting] comfortable, man. I think it will be a good week for us, though. Coming off that win, feeling good about ourselves, but knowing that we still got a lot of work to do.

"Myself, I always hold myself to a high standard. For some reason I haven't been pulling in every catch. But that [is] gonna change. Definitely gonna change."