FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Not-so-sweet 16: When Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan made their first receptions last week, they became the 15th and 16th different wide receivers to catch passes from Sam Darnold in his 27-game career. That's a lot of turnover for any quarterback, let alone a young, developing player.
More troubling than the quantity is the lack of quality. Of the 16, only two posted a 1,000-yard season in his career -- Demaryius Thomas (five times) and Terrelle Pryor (once), both of whom were on their last legs by the time they got to the Jets.
What a shame. The Jets have a talented quarterback, and they're stunting his growth by surrounding him with replacement-level talent. It's an old story. This is a franchise that hasn't drafted a Pro Bowl receiver since Keyshawn Johnson (1996) and hasn't drafted a 1,000-yard receiver since Jerricho Cotchery (2004).
It's unfair to slam general manager Joe Douglas because he has had one offseason to address the issue, but let's be honest: He left Darnold short at the position.
The Perriman-for-Robby Anderson swap in free agency was a downgrade in talent that saved $5.5 million in 2020 cash. Worth it? Not so far.
Douglas drafted only one receiver, second-round pick Denzel Mims, who might be terrific if his hamstrings ever let him get on the field. It was one of the richest receiver drafts in history. Instead of using a fourth-round pick on developmental quarterback James Morgan, who might never see the field, he should have tapped into the loaded draft for a second receiver.
It wasn't a great free-agent class, but it's worth noting three of the most productive receivers in Week 1 changed teams in the offseason -- Anderson (Carolina Panthers), DeAndre Hopkins (trade to Arizona Cardinals) and Stefon Diggs (trade to Buffalo Bills). In other words, big-time talent was on the move and could have been had.
Yes, the Jets have been beset by injuries, but this was a suspect cast of characters before players started going down. Now slot receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), the Jets' only reliable target, is banged up and won't play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
It's a tough spot for Darnold, but he can't let the adversity affect his decision-making, which happened last week. Maybe, in a few weeks, he can have Perriman, Crowder and Mims on the field together. Even then, it's hardly ideal, although Darnold disputed the notion he lacks playmakers.
"That’s not true at all," he said. "We have really good playmakers."
Clearly, Douglas is building the team with a long-term view, which is fine, but the part that doesn't square is that he hasn't fully maximized the window on Darnold's rookie contract by getting him better targets. They should explore a trade for Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears -- not for a first-round pick, obviously, but there could be a creative way to get something done. Will the Jets do it? Doubt it.
2. Poetry (not) in motion: Two different styles of offense will be on display at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Coach Kyle Shanahan's 49ers are known for their pre-snap motion and shifts. The Jets, not so much. For the most part, Jets coach Adam Gase runs a static offense, meaning the players are stationary.
In Week 1, the Jets ran one play with motion at the snap, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They ran 11 plays with motion/set at the snap and 41 with no motion at all, the ninth-highest total in the league.
In 2019, the ratios were pretty much the same. For instance: 697 plays with no motion, seventh highest. Gase's numbers were in the middle of the pack during his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
Motion is a terrific way to create a favorable matchup or confuse the defense. On the flip side, some coaches believe it can make it harder for the quarterback to read the defense. Former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Damien Woody called out Gase for his lack of creativity:
I watch the #Jets on offense, where's the eye candy (motions) to 1) help the QB 2) make the defense think. Just lining up static with their lack of playmakers aint gonna cut it— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) September 14, 2020
Gase said the decision to incorporate motion into the offense is made on a week-to-week basis, adding, "We're built a little different [than the 49ers]. The whole offense is built to be kind of an on-the-ball, no-huddle-type deal, so you don’t want to motion a lot. You want to get up and go."
That might provide some insight on why the Jets are ... well, standing in place, which doesn't mean they should be spinning their wheels.
3. Chris-crossing: Jets CEO Christopher Johnson's effusive praise of Gase became the headline out of his 15-minute session with reporters on Wednesday, overshadowing his mea culpa on the decision to retain general manager Mike Maccagnan after the 2018 season -- then waiting five months to fire him. It's old news and everybody knows he messed up, so it wasn't exactly a revelatory moment -- but it deserves to be studied through a larger prism.
By admitting he lacked decisiveness on the Maccagnan decision, Johnson has opened himself up to this fair question: Can he be trusted to make the right decision on Gase?
If the Jets are horrible, it's a no-brainer. But what if there's some good, some bad -- basically, a repeat of last season?
Food for thought.
4. Did you know? Look! I found a positive stat on the Jets. Going back to last season, Week 7, only two teams have more wins than the Jets (three) when tied or trailing in the fourth quarter -- the Tennessee Titans (five) and Houston Texans (four).
Go ahead, wrap your arms around that.
5. Taco Bell: During last week's telecast of Jets-Bills, CBS' Andrew Catalon shared a nugget given to him by Gase in their production meeting: Running back Le'Veon Bell dropped 24 pounds from last season. That means, based on his current weight (210), he weighed as much as 234 pounds in 2019, about 10 above his listed weight. As I reported at the end of the season, Bell's conditioning was a concern within the organization. But I had no idea his weight had crept up that high.
6. Gore-y detail: With Bell (hamstring) on injured reserve, running back Frank Gore will start against the team that drafted him -- way, way back in 2005. One of his 49ers teammates that year was defensive end Andre Carter, now the Jets' defensive line coach. Gore, 37, has been around so long that you wonder if he drove a Hupmobile.
7. Gone in a flash: Few Jets fans will remember that 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, coming off a monster postseason, was a member of the Jets' practice squad in 2016. His audition lasted six days. It was so nondescript that the position coach at the time, Marcel Shipp, told me in January he had no recollection of Mostert. The personnel department liked his speed and toughness, but there was concern about a fumbling problem.
Mostert, a classic story of a talented player who fell between the cracks, is doing quite well for himself. In the opener, he scored on a 76-yard reception, reaching a top speed of 22.73 mph -- the fastest speed of any ball carrier over the past three seasons, per NFL Next Gen Stats data.
Well, the '16 Jets got one thing right -- dude is fast.
8. The last word: "I’m going to want to see this team progress. Hopefully, that won’t be too hard from that first game," -- Johnson, half-jokingly, on how he will formulate an evaluation of Gase.