Sam Darnold got a little attached to Quincy Enunwa the first month of the season but when his top target went down with injury, other players showed up. For the time being, Darnold will have to rely on an underrated group of wide receivers and tight ends.
The first month of this New York Jets season taught quarterback Sam Darnold a valuable lesson, don’t have eyes for just one wide receiver. During the first four weeks of the season, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa led the team in receptions by a wide margin, 22 receptions for Enunwa while the next closest wide receivers; Terrelle Pryor and Robby Anderson, had eight receptions each.
However, the last two weeks, Enunwa became invisible in the offense with no catches against the Denver Broncos in Week 5 and just one catch for nine yards against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6. Unfortunately, Enunwa suffered a high ankle sprain on that catch and was unable to return in the Jets 42-34 win.
With Darnold not being able to connect with Enunwa the last two weeks, he has relied on his other receivers in Anderson, Pryor, and Jermaine Kearse. All three receivers have been able to step up and make life a little easier for their rookie quarterback.
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In the Week 5 victory against the Broncos, Anderson broke out with three catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Pryor contributed in the win as well, catching one ball for a 20-yard touchdown.
Pryor increased his contributions this past week against the Colts, catching five balls for 57 yards and a touchdown. Kearse, who led the Jets in receptions in 2017 with 65, led the way for the Jets receiving group against the Colts with nine receptions for 94 yards.
Kearse had been quiet for the first month of the season and this breakout game will raise his confidence going further in 2018. Darnold also has a solid group of tight ends led by rookie Chris Herndon who caught two balls for 56 yards and a touchdown against the Colts.
Being without their top wide receiver is not uncommon to the Jets. Just last season, Enunwa missed the entire year due to a neck injury that he suffered in training camp. Kearse went on to lead the team in receptions while Anderson led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. Pryor was signed this offseason and has been a valuable red zone target for Darnold.
Darnold will need these three wide receivers and his tight ends to continue providing a spark on offense like they have been the past two weeks. Week 7 brings a tough test as the Minnesota Vikings come into MetLife Stadium with a defense that is starting to find its stride after a mediocre start to the season. The Vikings currently have the 14th ranked pass defense that features Pro Bowl caliber players in cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith.
The rookie quarterback is confident in his supporting cast and believes they all can make plays. Darnold recently spoke to reporters about this and here is what Darnold had to say courtesy of the Jets Media Relations Department:
We’ve got guys who can make plays, so it’s just a matter of the defense dictates what I’m going to do with the ball because I know no matter what the defense is doing, we’ve got guys in certain spots that can make plays, all the receivers.”
With the Jets defense banged up, Darnold and his supporting cast might have to win in a shootout this week. Spreading the wealth is always a good thing and Darnold would be smart to continue that recent trend in Week 7.