NY Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold has been flashing his chemistry with tight end Chris Herndon.
The NY Jets expected tight end Chris Herndon to come into 2019 and pick up where he had left off the year prior. More specifically, they expected him to continue building on the chemistry he had established with Sam Darnold during each of their rookie seasons.
Unfortunately, the result couldn’t have been further from their expectations.
Herndon was suspended for the first four games of the season and quickly injured his hamstring upon being activated to the 53-man roster. Finally, after weeks of missing time, Herndon returned to the gridiron ahead of the team’s Week 10 matchup with the New York Giants.
Only his return wouldn’t last for very long.
Herndon hauled in just one catch before exiting in the first quarter with an apparent rips injury. He was placed on the injured reserve soon after ending his season before it ever really began.
In his place, veteran Ryan Griffin stepped in and did an admirable job. But it was clear that the Jets missed Herndon — perhaps no one more so than Darnold.
Darnold went through his fair share of ups and downs in 2019 and the presence of Herndon would have undoubtedly done wonders for him. Now, the two are looking to make up for lost time.
One of the primary stories coming out of training camp this summer has been the connection that Darnold and Herndon have had with one another. It’s almost like they never even missed last season.
Just look at a few of these recent Darnold-to-Herndon reports from the last week of training camp.
Darnold to Herndon. Touchdown. Might see this quite a bit this season. #Jets
— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) August 23, 2020
Darnold – Herndon touchdown in red zone.
Side note: Frankie Luvu & Nathan Shepherd getting first-team reps #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 23, 2020
Sam Darnold fits a perfect pass into the end zone for Chris Herndon, who makes a nice grab and gets some love from his teammates. Another nice day for the TEs: Trevon Wesco caught a short pass and took it for a TD on the first play of team drills. #Jets
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) August 22, 2020
Beautiful pass from Darnold to Herndon for a TD in the back corner of the end zone #NYJ
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) August 22, 2020
Gorgeous catch by Chris Herndon. Back-shoulder down seam from Darnold. Then Wesco makes a diving grab down middle as well. Who needs wideouts? #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 19, 2020
The NY Jets need both Sam Darnold and Chris Herndon to succeed in 2020.
Perhaps no player is more important to the success of the offense this season than Herndon. The Jets missed their talented tight end both in the passing and running game last year with Griffin and others serving as acceptable, albeit less-than-stellar replacements.
But the fact is that the well-rounded Herndon has the potential to be a top-10 tight end in the NFL by the season’s end. And much like he will rely on Darnold to help with his progression, the same is true for the opposite.
With a new-look receiving corps, Darnold will certainly benefit from playing alongside someone he already has developed a rapport with. And given the apparent weakness at that position, the Jets’ tight ends will be crucial this season.
Darnold and Herndon have developed a bond despite their short time together in the NFL. Both came into the league as rookies in 2018. Both have faced criticism and will look to prove their doubters wrong in 2020.
And to do so, they’ll need to lean on each other just as they did two years ago.