To be blunt, the New York Jets offense has been brutal for the most part throughout 2018 thus far, but rookie tight end Chris Herndon has provided the unit with a glimmer of hope and he could serve as a pivotal piece moving forward.
Heading into the 2018 NFL season, it was expected that this year would once again be a developmental year for the New York Jets, with much of the focus being put on the progression of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Now 12 weeks into the season, however, the Jets sit at 3-8 and riding a five-game losing streak. Frankly, the team has seemed to regress rather than show signs of improvement.
And much of this regression has seemed to take place on the offensive side of the ball. Aside from Darnold, who’s gone through his expected ups and downs, there’s simply not much to rave about regarding the unit.
For the most part, the offensive line has been weak and the team has often struggled to establish any sort of legitimate rushing attack. Overall, the receiving corps hasn’t amounted to anything special and newly minted offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates has often been criticized for uncreative and questionable play calling.
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This has all led to poor offensive production from a unit that, at times, has looked nothing short of lost and lifeless. One player that hasn’t looked lost and that actually has progressed, however, is rookie tight end Chris Herndon.
The 22-year-old was drafted by the Jets out of the University of Miami in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but his professional career got off to a bit of a rocky start, as he was arrested for DWI last June.
Aside from that, however, it was unclear what type of an impact he would have this season given that the Jets have some depth at the tight end position, including names like Jordan Leggett, Neal Sterling, and Eric Tomlinson.
Nonetheless, Herndon has made his presence felt throughout the season thus far. Heading into Sunday’s matchup against the division-leading New England Patriots, Herndon had brought in 19 receptions for 257 yards and three touchdowns. And although the Jets came up short against the Patriots, Herndon may have had his best game yet, as he brought in 7 receptions for 57 yards while averaging 8.1 yards per reception.
On an offense that truly lacks weapons, Herndon’s athleticism and consistency have undoubtedly been a bright spot. Although he may need to work on his blocking a bit, it’s quite possible that Herndon, who has seemingly improved week in and week out, could transform into the complete tight end the Jets have long been searching for.