The overlooked talent of Robby Anderson on the Jets

Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets have a plethora of decisions to make but at least have some bright spots moving forward. Like the tremendous upside of wide receiver Robby Anderson.

When looking back upon recent draft years for the New York Jets, most fans immediately recognize the first round stars we selected, such as Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. However, what many seem to overlook are the late sleepers that aren’t scouted or talked about heading into the draft. One of those guys is Robby Anderson, a wide receiver from Temple, who went from barely making the 53-man roster to becoming one of the biggest positives of the year and the most improved player.

Anderson’s quest to be a part of the organization began in the preseason. He made an impact immediately, mainly with Bryce Petty as the quarterback. They had plenty of time on the field together, including the final one, a game in Washington against the Redskins, where Anderson went off for 131 yards and a touchdown, with huge gains of 50 and 42 yards, all with Petty under center. Anderson was, without a doubt, the MVP of the preseason, which led the coaches to take a shot on him and keep him on the roster.

Once the regular season kicked off, Anderson was far down on the depth chart. But once the season progressed, things began to change drastically, as Eric Decker suffered a season-ending injury and the team just kept on losing, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Anderson continued to improve, while Petty waited patiently for his chance to start, and he finally did towards the second half of the season.

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When Petty took over as the starter, he and Anderson picked up right where they left off in the preseason, moving the ball downfield swiftly against opposing defenses. In a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Anderson caught 6 catches for 99 yards, including a 20-yarder that set up the game-tying field goal to go to overtime.

When asked about the rising star in Anderson, Petty said, “Robby just does a really good job. He’s kind of one of those, as we like to call him in our QB room, a QB-friendly guy. When you’re running and escaping, he just finds where you are,” per Neil Best of Newsday.

While the Jets’ future at quarterback is an enigma right now, it is safe to say that Anderson and Petty have a stellar connection so far. And history has shown, even in the current league, that one quarterback-wide receiver connection can really set the tone for an entire team. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, drafted one year apart, have carried the Oakland Raiders to the playoffs. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen took the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have been debatably the best in the league. While those are some prime examples, it would be unfair to say Petty and Anderson can’t be like that one day.

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Anderson knows this is only the beginning of his career, but he seems ready to work. “I didn’t come in here to just say that I put on a helmet; I was a free agent; I got cut,” Anderson said, per Brian Heyman of Newsday. “I came here to do what I did. And I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I wanted to get a thousand yards. I want to go to the Super Bowl. So I’m still working for my goals.” With Decker still recovering from injury and Brandon Marshall‘s future with the team a question as well, Anderson is here to stay and deserves major attention moving forward.