NY Jets: Chris Herndon must live up to the hype in Week 3

NY Jets, Chris Herndon (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Chris Herndon (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

NY Jets’ tight end Chris Herndon must live up to his training-camp hype in Week 3.

The NY Jets have disappointed in pretty much every conceivable way through the first two weeks of the season. But amidst a sea of disappointment, perhaps no player has underwhelmed more than tight end Chris Herndon.

After an encouraging rookie season that saw him finish first among all first-year tight ends in receptions and receiving touchdowns, many expected Herndon to break out in his second NFL campaign.

Unfortunately, he’d never even get the chance.

A four-game suspension was a less-than-ideal way to start the season, but the hope was that he could pick up where he left off upon his return.

Then he injured his hamstring in practice the week before his return. And once he finally took the field again in Week 10, he injured his ribs in the first quarter and would be placed on injured reserve shortly after.

It was an awful string of misfortune for a player who many had high hopes for in 2019. But going into 2020, that same sense of optimism returned in full force.

Faced with an inexperienced wide receiver group, the expectation was that the Jets would turn to a returning Herndon to help alleviate some of their concerns in the passing game.

A superb showing in training camp only furthered that notion as few players made more headlines this summer than Herndon. But through the first two weeks of the season, Herndon has played some of the worst football of his career.

Chris Herndon has been invisible through the NY Jets’ first two games.

The 24-year-old has been a non-factor in both games with the likes of Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios evidently featuring more heavily in the offensive gameplan.

Sure, some of this falls on head coach Adam Gase who should do a better job of getting Herndon more involved. But it’s not as if the young tight end has played well — quite the opposite, in fact.

Herndon has hauled in just seven catches for 42 yards with the vast majority of those catches coming in the final few minutes of Week 1, otherwise known as garbage time.

His two most notable moments this season have come on a back-breaking fumble in Week 1 and an ugly dropped touchdown in Week 2. Other than that, he’s essentially only been targeted on dump-offs.

Through two weeks, Herndon is ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ 69th overall tight end out of just 71 qualifiers. His 40.7 receiving grade ranks dead last among all tight ends in the NFL while he hasn’t even been efficient as a blocker either within an abysmal 52.8 grade that ranks 61st.

Herndon has been downright unplayable through the first two games of the season. And that’s something that must change in Week 3.

The Jets enter their Week 3 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts with an offense that features two healthy wide receivers, at the time of writing, and one listed as questionable.

The Jets need Herndon more than ever and it’s time for him to live up to the training-camp hype.

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Adam Gase once referred to Chris Herndon as a “unicorn” and maybe he was on to something with that comment.

Because for the first two weeks of the 2020 season, it’s like Herndon hasn’t even existed.