With tight end Chris Herndon suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season, the Jets will need a careful and well-executed game plan to win in his absence.
As New York Jets fans know all too well, sometimes a team’s season seems derailed before it even starts.
While this year’s Jets have not reached that point yet, the news that starting tight end Chris Herndon will be suspended for the first four games of the season is certainly discouraging.
Herndon had a promising rookie season, posting 4 receiving touchdowns and 500+ receiving yards last year.
Unfortunately, Herndon’s success has been largely limited to the football field, as a drunk driving arrest last year has resulted in his current suspension. If he wants to fully realize his potential and have a long career in the league, Herndon will have to show greater maturity in the future.
In the meanwhile, the Jets need to find a way to win football games without one of their best offensive weapons. If they hope to win without Herndon and to start the season on a high note, the Jets should do the following.
1. Use other short-yardage receiving weapons
Young inexperienced quarterbacks benefit greatly from having reliable short-yardage receiving options. When facing confusing pass coverages or a fierce pass rush, having safe short-yardage receiving options allow quarterbacks to turn potentially negative plays (i.e. interceptions, sacks) into positive ones.
Without Herndon, the Jets will need to find other players to fill that role for Sam Darnold.
Newly signed slot receiver Jamison Crowder should play a heavy role in the New York offense, especially early on in the season (fantasy football players take note). Fellow newcomer Le’Veon Bell is an elite pass-catching running back, and the Jets should find ample ways to incorporate him into their offense as well.
2. Return to ground and pound
The Jets should use their depth to their advantage and run the ball frequently. Doing so would allow the Jets to dominate the time of possession, minimize mistakes from Darnold, compensate for a weakened passing attack, and wear out opposing defenses.
3. Take a chance on unknown players
With every injury or suspension comes new opportunity.
Although the Jets would obviously rather have Herndon, his absence allows them to give snaps to other players.
Future stars are sometimes discovered only after current stars are sidelined. However unlikely, perhaps New York will get lucky and strike gold. The franchise is certainly long overdue for some good luck.
Although losing Herndon for the first four games is a significant blow to the Jets’ offense, the team has talent and depth. Gang Green fans can only hope that the coaching staff is able to effectively translate that potential into wins on the field.