NY Jets: Devin Smith not ready for spotlight


The NY Jets (5-5) have lost 4 out of their last 5 and their rookie wide receiver Devin Smith hasn’t helped the cause.

When the Jets punched in their draft card this past April cashing in their 2nd round pick for the explosive Smith, the Jets front office was salivating. They had just added another piece to their transformation of the Jets’ receiving corps that had seen quite the face lift in 2015.

They had every right to be excited, Smith boasted quite the resume for the National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Smith averaged an insane 28.2 yards per reception during his senior season and accounted for 12 touchdowns. Smith was heralded for his ability to react to the deep ball and for his knack for the big plays.

It seemed like a match made in heaven, the Jets had Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker manning the outside receiver spots and Smith could instantly be a third option for their passing game. On paper this draft pick could slowly develop into a starting caliber receiver and eventually replace either Decker or Marshall in the lineup.

Unfortunately 10 games in for the Jets, Smith has proved he isn’t quite ready for the spotlight. After breaking a few ribs in training camp, Smith was already behind the eight-ball. When he eventually worked his way back from injury he was slowly integrated into the lineup.

Since he’s been activated he’s just made mistake after mistake and has raised several red flags during his rookie campaign. So far he’s hauled in 7 passes for 82 yards and zero touchdown passes but targets haven’t been the issue for Smith, drops have.

Asked about Devin Smith’s TD drop, Bowles said: Rookies have to stop acting like rookies. They get paid like everyone else #jets

— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) November 22, 2015

Smith dropped a would-be 46 yard touchdown pass that Ryan Fitzpatrick put right on the money. He obviously had the fumble on the kick return in the Buffalo game last week. So he’s certainly faced his fair share of rookie struggles, but head coach Todd Bowles isn’t buying the rookie excuse.

Everyone remembers our former general manager John Idzik and former coach Rex Ryan as one of their biggest mistakes during their short reign together was letting politics decide the depth chart. We had draft picks make the team over other players who performed better.

It seems like history is repeating itself once again. Jeremy Kerley who has been tossed aside due to his size is clearly the better option as the Jets third guy. In limited action this season, Kerley has proved as much hauling in 16 balls for north of 150+ yards and 2 scores, yet has been ignored in the passing game, why?

Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jets 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

I get why you’d want Smith to be the guy, you drafted him, you want him to succeed, you want him to prove you right. But I can’t tell you why Smith continues to see more playing time because he certainly hasn’t proved he deserves it with his play on the field.

I know he didn’t show it to you in training camp, he couldn’t have, he was injured. Yet Kerley for one reason or another, continues to ride the bench as the rookie continues to struggle. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for the long-term sustained success of this team they have to find out who is going to be the ‘other’ guy.

Next: Jets drop to .500 with ugly loss to Texans

And what I mean by that is that this Jets’ offense relies heavily upon the likes of Marshall and Decker for their offensive success. When they are covered the Jets have to have a guy they can count on. Is it Quincy Enunwa? Is it Jeff Cumberland? Is it perhaps Kerley?

I don’t know what the answer is, but the Jets have to find out quick because you can’t just win with 2 guys. The Jets have to play team-ball and they can’t let politics get in the way. Play the best guy as the Jets preached about heavily in the off-season to make the environment competitive and now it should be put to the test.