Link: Not just better receivers but bigger?

It is still early in Geno Smith’s career, but does he have a better knack at getting the ball to larger targets? It’s a point that Scott Kacsmar makes for Football Outsiders in his AFC East edition of Four Downs today in which they discuss the biggest holes on each AFC East roster.  

For the Jets of course it was receivers, but here’s some interesting insight from Kacsmar when talking about filling the hole through the draft:

When Rex Ryan was reaching AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez his inconsistent quarterback was throwing to talent like Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller. Those are receivers who can catch inaccurate passes and produce yards after the catch. Smith’s leading targets were Jeremy Kerley, a banged-up Holmes, Stephen Hill and David Nelson. Hill has yet to catch on in two years and Holmes may not even be back given his cap hit of over $10.7 million in 2014.

It was as cumbersome a receiving corps as the Jets have had in years, and tight end Jeff Cumberland led the team with just four receiving touchdowns.  A tight end like North Carolina’s Eric Ebron could be a great addition with the 18th pick in the draft. Smith had success when throwing to similar big targets last year. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes to Kellen Winslow Jr., 64.0 percent to Nelson and 63.9 percent to Cumberland. However, Smith was just 47-of-114 passing (41.2 percent) when targeting Holmes and the still raw Hill. Those outside throws are tougher, which is why a player like Ebron would be a great security blanket over the middle for Smith.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

We don’t expect that the Jets are about to go out and re-sign Ropati Pitoitua and convert him to flanker, but it is not a point on Smith that I would have thought to even make. Kacsmar takes a different look at the problem and I appreciate that.

It would make sense that a young-ish and less accurate quarterback could benefit from better targets, but it can’t hurt when those targets are also larger. If there’s one hole to the argument it would be that Jeremy Kerley was humming along nicely at a 60 percent catch rate and he’s probably the smallest guy of that whole bunch … but then I think that comes down to Kerley’s ability and desire over Hill and Holmes.

When it comes to the draft, the Jets are going to rank their pass catchers by whoever they think is best and expect results over their arm-span … but maybe right now with Smith when it comes down to all things being equal the arm-span measurement doesn’t hurt.




89 comments
theguru
theguru

holmes ia a piece of crude. the way to build is through the draft not through free agents and trades for over priced rip offs like holmes. collect draft picks like bellichick. its not rocket science folks. every year bellichick has the most picks in the draft and he wins the division every year. do you think thats coincidence?

Pat d
Pat d

Since when is Holmes, Edwards, Cotchery and Keller great receivers. What have they done since 2010.

rstysanchz
rstysanchz

stedman bailey is 5'10" and tavon austin is 5'9" and geno had 67% career completion percentage in college...i think once he perfects his footwork and not have to worry about winters blocking assignment ready to kill him genos accuracy should get better 

harvlis
harvlis

Separation is the key.  You can achieve this when; the OC has a solid game plan, your O-line gives your QB extra time, your QB executes a good fake and a good pass, your RB executes a fake or does his job blocking, the other receivers do their jobs, you run precise routes, you have awareness, and you ate your Wheaties in the morning.  Height is good but, if the other pieces to the puzzle are not working -- no separation.  If the other pieces of the puzzle are working -- you go to the Super Bowl with a 5'9" star receiver.

Vinny Stasi
Vinny Stasi

Hill is 6'4, Nelson 6'5 Cumberland 6'4.. Height is not an issue. Talent is. Edwards 6'3 Keller 6'2, and Cotchery 6'1.

juunit
juunit

Well a guy like Ebron who can pull in inaccurate passes will definitely help. But he's hardly the only guy capable of that. And the guy also has to get open often. Circus catches are cool but if the player is only catching two passes a game then he isn't helping the young QB very much.

SackDance99
SackDance99

Kacsmar's opinion has lots of holes.  For instance, Kerley isn't a big target (5'10") but Hill (6'4") is.  Maybe the reasons for the low completion % to Holmes and Hill is because Holmes was drawing the other team's best CB, while Hill has problems with the accuracy of his routes.  It just seems inaccurate to state height as the factor, rather than separation, which seemed to be the bigger issue with Holmes and Hill.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

A big target is only good when he knows how to use his size to his advantage, which is why Hill hasn't panned out yet.  Size alone won't do.

Brendan
Brendan

@Pat d  That was a good group of receivers. Are you really arguing they weren't? 

__fense
__fense

@harvlis  Height and all those things is better than just all those things, though. It's a piece of that puzzle, too. No one is ever going to have every piece of the puzzle every play, but if you have height, you pretty much automatically have piece every time. You still need some of the others to be successful, but it's better than not having height.

gbrownn
gbrownn

Thank you. I agree 100% We need guys that will get open,fight for the ball, and make plays when its in there hands. The only guy doing that consistently last year was Kerley. It aint about size it's about heart.

D
D

@Vinny Stasi SPEED!   We need guys who can create match up problems and separate from the defenders. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@juunit Ebron, like any athletic TE, presents multiple problems for a defense.  Too big for a safety, too fast for an LB, too risky for a CB to cover (because either a WR will be covered by a safety or the defense gets susceptible to the run).  Fun fact, Cumby averaged 15.3 yards per catch, higher than Graham and Gronk and only 1 yard behind V. Davis.  Now, imagine a real seam buster with plus speed.

D
D

@a57se There were several throws Geno didnt make this year.   Maybe that comes with experience.    The one common thing I noticed game in and game out was there was very little separation from the defenders from our receivers.   Kerley was the only one who could do that and it was evident as the team skidded when he was absent.


I think if we can get it right with the draft and FA market at WR we should see a spike in Genos improvement year 2.   He with out a doubt has a NFL arm. 

D
D

@Disgruntled Jets Fan Most of the big target receivers also have a lot more experience through, HS and College coming into the NFL.    Hill was raw and inexperienced coming out of GT

Pat d
Pat d

I liked that group of receivers but they're not what everyone is making them out to be.

harvlis
harvlis

@Brendan @harvlis Plenty of tall receivers went nowhere.  It definitely can help, if you have other skills and some of the pieces that I mentioned.  I have no problem with 6' receivers.  See Don Maynard.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@levi @Disgruntled Jets FanI was hoping for that last year, but he has a lot of flaws in his game...he might never mature into a bona fide NFL WR.  I'm not saying the Jets should dump him, but they can't rely on him either.

D
D

@harold That group was solid for us with out a doubt.   The FLY BOYS, - they came up big for us.  They over achieved big time.   I thought that they had such a potential for a "core" group but it was dismantled rather quickly which i never understood why

harold
harold

I think we all should acknolwdge at that time that group especially when youi include LT out of the backfield was a top Ten group in Football without question.  Three guys on the outside who had all had 1,000 yard seasons in the NFL and  all were still pretty young a that time.

Dustin Keller at TE and LT at RB.

Very good group.  No doubt about that 

Pat d
Pat d

I disagree with that.

Brendan
Brendan

@Pat d  I find that hard to believe, dude. Jets fans tend to not be the types of fans that vastly overrate their own players, they're generally the type to vastly underrate their own players. 

Pat d
Pat d

They have been called the best here. Especially when talking about the weaknesses of Sanchez or Smith.

Brendan
Brendan

@Pat d  Best group of receivers since 2010? 


I don't think anyone would say they were the best group in the NFL in 2010, someone was throwing that out there earlier? 


If you put it to a vote, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't say that group is above average. Maybe you just forget how good the Flight Boys were? That a talented & exciting unit. 

Pat d
Pat d

If a poll was taken on this site I don't think that group would be rated above average. They have been named the best group of receivers from 2010.

harold
harold

He was already converted to TE. That's why he was so big. He played around 220 to 225 at WR.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se @SackDance99Okay, then telling me that Cumby is (or may be) faster was, frankly, not relevant to my comment.  Cumby is also faster than Gronk...who's the better seam buster?

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se @SackDance99But, you didn't credit my distinction..."real seam buster".  That Cumby has more straight-line speed (or may have more) than Ebron wasn't the difference.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se @SackDance99I think he was a college WR, who bulked up for the Combine and sold himself as a TE (something that I think is pretty shrewd, as you know).  I found that he weighed in at 249 lbs., he's now @ 260.  So, there will be some natural slippage in his 40-time.  And, I said "true seam buster with plus speed" and, since you called me out, let me explain.


Cumby is more effective in WR-type or H-back-type routes, not with his hand in the ground.  Ebron has always been a hand in the dirt TE.  The best seam routes are where the TE sells block and then attacks the seam...that's what makes Gronk the best in the NFL at seam-busting.  I didn't say Cumby didn't have plus speed (but from my eye he looks more 4.6 than 4.5), I just don't think he's as good with his hand in the dirt.  

Guys who always played TE (Gonzo, Gronk, V. Davis, etc.) are usually a little better at attacking seams.  The guys who are basically conversion projects are better at WR-type patterns, like Graham, Gates, etc.  I think Cumby is more like the latter and, if anything, maybe he should just forget about trying to be a 3-down TE and play at 250 lbs.

gbrownn
gbrownn

He went undrafted as a WR out of Illinois, then we picked him up and converted him to TE.

gbrownn
gbrownn

I like Mettenberger for the record. Depending on how far he slips and how well we fill other holes. I'd take him.

kniff
kniff

@gbrownn  Much like a lot of bloggers on here, I am concerned with Geno's ability to learn to read defenses and see the whole field....Many QBs including Sanchez, never really get it... even after a few years...and its tough to accept when you're a huge fan, and the Brass seems all in on a guy, and another year (or era) passes us by...


I'm a Geno fan, but don't want to be let down by a non substantive QB competition...


We need Receivers yes, absolutely, and a big target TE that can block too...


Just hoping to not be singing the "Same Old Jets Blues" this season...

gbrownn
gbrownn

Defenses were sitting on everything short that 4 game stretch where we lost Kerley and went all conservative.  And 57 I really dont know what to make of those stats either honestly. Geno got better under pressure when he realized he could run iin the NFL.  Those acuracy numbers remind me of Sanchez tho  :(

bklyndude
bklyndude

@a57se   Sounds like defensive game plans to take away short stuff and force the deep stuff. 

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

@gbrownn I actually trust bent more than my eyes because he's vastly better at analyzing what he sees, and he watches way more than me.

gbrownn
gbrownn

Maybe that was case, it honestly wouldnt surprise me at all if Geno did have trouble seeing the whole field and making throws with bodies around him. I'd say thats a rookie QB issue. Just a thing he has to get comfortable with.

gbrownn
gbrownn

I agree with you that he was missed when he was open sometimes. But what receiever isnt?  Every qb misses a reciever open. Sanchez was Sanchez and he had the most unimaginative O coordinator calling the plays. But if you say he was open I believe you because I respect your opinion.

But with Geno, a rookie qb and MM calling plays. Hill should have been his go to option. Simply on size/speed alone. I can't think of any reason why a rookie QB wouldn't want to lean on big #1 reciever besides the fact he doesnt believe in them.

This is how I see it with Hill. Rex didnt want him. Westy didnt want him. So if the head coach and ST coordinator aren't all in on a player then who wanted him drafted? I say it was Tanny trying to make a big splash on a guy who tore up the combine and missed badly. Tanny isnt here anymore and I doubt Hill as showed Rex anything that would make him like Hil more than the day he was drafted. He's still raw, his hand are still unreliable, and he plays too small for someone that is 6'4.

I ask this question to people who want Hill to stick around one more year. What does he do well on the football field besides run clear outs and run block? Theres just too much he doesnt do for us compared to what he does do consistenly.

Brendan
Brendan

@gbrownn  With Sanchez, I'm pretty sure he was just gun-shy. Those passes, when you're just tossing it up for a big receiver in a jump ball, are essentially coin flips. Maybe Mark was tired of people bemoaning his mistakes, I dunno, but he stopped throwing those deep balls and at least giving Hill a shot to run under them. 2012 I saw Hill open a LOT and Sanchez never threw it to him. 


This past year he was used differently and he wasn't open as much and I Geno just never developed the trust with him that he had with other guys. 


Hopefully they get together in the offseason and work on route running/timing, because that's by far their biggest issue as a tandem. 


I give the guy this season to put something worthwhile together. He's not devoid of talent, but he hasn't done much of anything yet. At a certain point potential must be realized, and we're at that point with Hill, imo. But you can't cut him, he costs nothing and has potential to be good, so you gotta give him a fair shake, and to me a fair shake for a developmental project is three years. 

gbrownn
gbrownn

Idk Brendan, I usually agree with you on topics but I don't see it in Hill. Why would anyone not want to throw to a big reciever with even a little bit a separation? It seems like his QBs just dont trust him to make a play. When I watch Hill I see an EXTREMELY raw big guy whose not as fast as his 40 with no basic route running skills and no yac ability. He's just so awkward and unorthdox. Where do you think HIll will be on the depth chart next year if he is on the team? I say he's cut, I know he's only going to be 23 next season but at some point you just gotta cut your losses.

Brendan
Brendan

@gbrownn  I trust Bent's eyes more than my own, but my eyes (that go to every home game) saw Hill consistently getting a step on guys in 2012, but Sanchez never threw it to him. 


This year was more injuries than anything else, but that's two years in a row he's been banged up, so Hill has to come back healthy and stay on the field this year. 

gbrownn
gbrownn

Right, I trust Bent too. I just trust my own eyes more.

gbrownn
gbrownn

Still shots and actual game speed are two completely different things. If Hill was routinely getting open, dont you think the coaches would have made it a point to try and get him the ball? ESPECIALLY when Geno didn't  look at Hill for a month? If Hill was routinely open, why did he start to lose snaps? It was because he wasn't and him being out there hurt the team. The single least effcient wide receiver in football.

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@a57se @__fense  I agree with you that he did improve. From my point of view his biggest improvement was that he used his hands more rather than waiting for the ball and then trying to trap it against his body.That is one of the biggest problems with young players,especially those that come from college programs that don't feature pro style offenses. I think he still has a shot to make it but he needs to stay healthy and like you guys said, needs to use his body keeping it between the defender and the ball.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@levi @SackDance99Like I said, I'd have to watch the all 22.  My recollection is that Kerley was still in the slot a lot and Nelson was the X and Holmes the Z.  When Holmes wasn't around, then Kerley became the Z.  Are you saying that then Nelson went in the slot and Salas was the X?  I thought Nelson was the X?  I just don't recall.  In any event, Hill was usually the X and I do think that Nelson was the X at least part of the time and maybe more.


Who knows, maybe Hill would be a better Z?  I think that's where he played a lot in camp and pre-season with Holmes out.

gbrownn
gbrownn

Hill ranked 102nd of 105 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus' 2012 "catch rate" (45.7%) metric, and 100th (47.1%) in 2013. The improvement was very minimal from a stats perspective. Hill has a glaring issue in that he doesn't catch the ball with his hands. I can't call someone a reliable pass catcher when their first instinct is to body catch a pass coming their way.

bklyndude
bklyndude

@SackDance99 @a57se   

Not to sound like a Hill apologist,  but for a young WR to play with an inexperienced rookie QB early in the season, I would have been surprised if they had instant chemisty.   Geno was playing better by the end of the season.  Hill show'd improvement in terms of overcoming his problem with drops in his first year.

I'm still hopeful he comes back healthy this year and gets off to a good start before he becomes a target for the boo birds.

levi
levi

@SackDance99 I would be surprised if they both ran the same routes. Nelson was a slot reciever much of his career so he is use to running the shorter ones. Hill was drafted to be the field stretcher. we all knew Hill was raw so I dont doubt Nelson is the better route runner.

Brendan
Brendan

@SackDance99 I think at times it was 100% Geno's fault for double-clutching or hesitating, but it definitely was on Hill at times as well. 


I really think a good offseason's worth of work will be a world of difference with them. Like you said, Hill was the only guy from camp who Geno didn't build some kind of rapport with, hopefully they can figure that last bit out this year. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@levi @SackDance99Nelson was used on a lot of the same crossing routes.  It would take us going through the all 22 and looking at how Nelson ran his routes as opposed to Hill.  Maybe Hill overshot his routes because of his speed and when he tried to pace himself was behind?  There are just way too many variables beyond the reductive "Geno sucks" or "Hill sucks" arguments.  So, I disagree that Nelson ran shorter routes.  To my eye, he ran better routes.

levi
levi

@SackDance99 fair enough. Lets hope we get improvement from both of them. They could compliment each other well with Geno's big arm and Hills size/speed.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Brendan @SackDance99And, for the record, I said "it's hard to tell whether his routes were off or whether Geno didn't locate him well."  I just think it might be more Hill's fault because Geno seemed to have better chemistry with Nelson.  For whatever reason, 2 different (and flawed) QBs haven't been able to utilize Hill's full talents and have not looked his way when he's been open.  At some point, the conclusion might be it's the receiver, not the QB.  And, I don't think we can make a definitive conclusion either way at this point.


Brendan
Brendan

@SackDance99 For the record, Bent went into detail once about Hill being open and Smith screwing him, in the 2nd Buffalo game. 


Besides that, he never made it seem like it was overly Smith's fault, and instead made it seem like both guys had a hand in their issues most weeks. 


(link to the BGA with photos that talks about this)

http://thejetsblog.com/bga/bga-receivers-hill-streak-blues/


Hill wasn't "consistently" open last year, but there were games where he got consistently open and wasn't utilized properly. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se @SackDance99Um, no.  QB's often throw to spots where the receiver is supposed to be, rather than at the WR.  This is especially true in the WCO.  Also, Geno was pretty good at the long stuff, too.  Holmes averaged nearly 20 yards per reception and Cumby over 15.  Plus, as we've debated before, a quick out to the long side of the field is a 30+ yard throw, with pace that's at the LOS.  A 30 yard pass down the middle is a 25 yard completion.

levi
levi

@SackDance99 It wasnt all peaches and cream with Geno/Nelson. I believe there was a pick six there and Nelson was also used differently with a lot of shorter routes.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@a57se @SackDance99I trust Bent, but like I said before, we just don't know (and that includes Bent) whether Hill was running the routes right.  Geno had no problems with Nelson, who from my eye is just a better route runner.


How do you account for Nelson, who wasn't even in camp, having better chemistry with Geno than Hill?

SackDance99
SackDance99

@__fense @SackDance99@levi@Disgruntled Jets FanKerley, Winslow, Cumby, Gates and Hill.  Gates wasn't very good in his limited reps during the regular season (and he looked great in camp and pre-season), but I think we agree his sucking was more his fault than Geno's.  Hill, however, seemed a little lost to me...it's hard to tell whether his routes were off or whether Geno didn't locate him well.


All I can say is that Geno didn't struggle with Kerley, Winslow, Cumby and the guy who replaced Hill's reps, Nelson.

Brendan
Brendan

@__fense That *snap* you just heard were ankles breaking as they jumped off the Hill bandwagon. 

__fense
__fense

@a57se @__fense  So what are you saying? Are you one of those 'most'? Most people on this blog will tell you a lot of things that are wrong, and the people who go to this site and comment tend to be better than most Jets fans. It comes from having the media lie to us at every opportunity.

__fense
__fense

@SackDance99 @levi @Disgruntled Jets Fan  I've got more hope in him than I did last year at this time. Last summer he was there every time two of his teammates were in the same town, and he cut down on the drops pretty much 100%, while dealing with injuries. I'm thinking this year he focuses on using his size to his advantage, and gets good at that, and then focuses on the next thing, ect, until he's a great WR. We knew he was going to take time, but seeing him improve so much, even if it wasn't enough to be good last year, said a lot for me.

levi
levi

@SackDance99 Not to make exscuses because he has been underwhelming but I think he struggled with injuries and Geno as a rookie is not the ideal situation to help a struggling WR either.