NY Jets’ tight end Chris Herndon has struggled, but it’s too early to write him off.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a player who has disappointed more in 2020 than NY Jets‘ tight end Chris Herndon. On a team full of disappointments, Herndon has managed to stand out amongst the masses as the biggest letdown of all.
But while many may be quick to write off the former fourth-round pick, perhaps that mindset is a bit too reactionary.
There’s no denying just how awful Herndon has been this season. The 24-year-old has just 14 catches for 101 yards on his stat sheet with nearly half of those catches coming in Week 1.
Since Week 2, Herndon is averaging one catch for eight yards per game. He’s been the team’s starting tight end for the vast majority of that time.
Drops and fumbles have been the story of Herndon’s 2020 season and his 46.6 Pro Football Focus grade currently ranks as one of the very worst tight ends in football.
Only four qualified tight ends have received a worse PFF grade through 10 weeks and his abysmal 42.4 receiving grade is dead last among all qualified players at his position. Yes, that includes blocking tight ends and others who aren’t necessarily known for their receiving chops.
Few players in the NFL have been more detrimental to their team when on the field as Herndon. And given the hype he received in training camp, it’s astounding to see how far he has fallen off.
The Jets legitimately believed that Herndon would be a featured part of the offense in 2020 and hopes were high that this season could serve as his breakout campaign. Instead, many are now questioning his future with the organization.
Herndon has been splitting snaps with the equally-awful Ryan Griffin in recent weeks, hence why he’s hauled in just one catch for three yards in the past four games — that one catch coming on a tight end screen that he would ultimately fumble.
But in spite of his struggles, despite how absolutely terrible he has been, it would be a mistake to completely write him off.
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The NY Jets shouldn’t give up on Chris Herndon yet
Herndon’s inefficiency shouldn’t be placed on the coaching staff. Adam Gase and company deserve their fair share of the blame for the offense’s woes, but they’ve tried to get Herndon involved.
They’ve designed looks for him, they’ve given him plenty of opportunities. But he’s either not separating or failing to hold on to the ball when it comes his way. You could blame Gase for a lot of things, but not Chris Herndon.
That said, it’s hard to imagine that a change of scenery wouldn’t be beneficial for Herndon right now. That change of scenery doesn’t necessarily need to come with a change of address, it could come with a new coaching staff next season.
Get Herndon in a new system and see if the new staff can find a way to boost his confidence.
This is clearly a mental thing with Herndon — the talent and promise that he showed in his rookie season and in training camp haven’t just disappeared. There just seems to be some sort of mental block that’s holding him back right now.
For that reason, it would be foolish to simply give up and cut ties.
Herndon is just 24-years-old and he’s still on his rookie contract for another year making him very affordable. There is absolutely no reason that he shouldn’t be back next season.
That said, it would probably be best to bring in improved competition and move on from Ryan Griffin and his undeserved contract.
The Jets shouldn’t hedge their plans on Chris Herndon bouncing back in 2021, but they also shouldn’t just give up on him either. Perhaps an offseason to get his mind right will be beneficial.
After all, the talent is still there for Herndon to be a well-rounded starting tight end. He just needs to rediscover it.