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NY Jets: Is it officially time to worry about Denzel Mims?

Dustin Satloff/Getty Images
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In the 2020 NFL Draft, the NY Jets and their fans thought that good luck had made its way to the franchise when Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims fell right into their laps.

Not only was it a bit of a shock that Mims fell out of the first round, especially since it seemed like the perfect player for the Green Bay Packers to draft, but he fell all the way to the 59th overall selection.

With the addition of Elijah Moore in the 2021 NFL Draft, that's made it twice where a possible first-round receiver fell to Joe Douglas and the Jets.

Things didn't get off on the right foot for Denzel Mims, as he missed the first several games of the 2020 season with a hamstring injury.

After returning in Week 7, Mims would play out the remainder of the season. While he did only haul in 23 catches, it was easily chalked up to the play-calling of then-head coach Adam Gase.

Even with his small number of catches, Mims managed to put up 357 yards — or over 15 yards per catch. In a struggling offense, that did make it seem like Mims was a young player just waiting to break out. Many of us thought he would, especially with a new coaching staff coming in.

2021 didn't start out well for Mims. He missed a lot of time in OTAs, an absence eventually attributed to a severe battle with food poisoning that saw him lose 20 pounds as a result. For a big-bodied wide receiver — part of the upside is that they are big-bodied.

Fuel was eventually thrown onto the fire when Denzel Mims began taking snaps with the second and third-team offenses in training camp. This only got the fans riled up, wondering just what it was about the Baylor product that warranted having his starting reps withheld.

For as much of a playmaker as Denzel Mims has shown flashes of being, it seems odd to hold him back from developing chemistry with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.

The Jets did well to extinguish some of the early fires by eventually rotating Mims into the starting lineup during the offseason. In the preseason, Mims even made a few remarkable plays — leading fans to think everything would be fine going forward with the sophomore receiver.

The NY Jets failed to get Denzel Mims involved in Week 1

That was until the Jets' Week 1 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Denzel Mims wasn't just buried in rotation on the field. He was nonexistent.

Prior to the game, Jamison Crowder was placed on the COVID-19 list, holding him out of practice and eventually being labeled as OUT for the game.

The morning of September 12th, free agent signing Keelan Cole was listed as inactive — meaning that Mims would now have to battle for reps with just Corey Davis and Elijah Moore.

At least, that's how it should have been.

During the game, Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, and even Jeff Smith received more offensive reps than Denzel Mims, who was limited to three offensive plays all day.

That isn't a typo. Denzel Mims played three snaps while the Jets were struggling on offense until the second half. Mims first saw the field with under four minutes to play — and immediately hauled in a 40-yard pass that helped the Jets close the gap on the Panthers.

After the game, head coach Robert Saleh said that Mims is currently the fourth receiver on the depth chart — and can only rotate in when he masters all three positions at receiver.

Considering the lack of production that Jeff Smith or even Elijah Moore provided in Week 1, that isn't an excuse that anybody is willing to accept.

Having a talented player like Mims sitting as fifth or sixth on your depth chart when everybody is healthy makes absolutely no sense. Even if he doesn't know "every spot at wide receiver," the offensive coordinator has to make plays to get him involved.

Should Mims be first on the depth chart? Not at the moment. Corey Davis has the WR1 position locked down, and that showed by scoring two touchdowns against the Panthers.

But with the Jets lacking that "big-play ability" at the moment, putting a guy like Mims on the field should be paramount.

Saleh has done a lot of good since joining the team as head coach, but the decision to bury Mims behind less talented wide receivers (no disrespect to Jeff Smith or Braxton Berrios) should and likely does have everybody scratching their heads.

But there's just one thing to remember. It was only one game. Mims has yet to return to form, and even admitted himself that he lost a lot of valuable time learning the new offense. The team has a lot of first-year players and coaches who will learn from experience.

So is it time to start worrying about the lack of attention Mims is receiving from the coaches? No. At least not yet. If the team is still unable to produce consistently on offense while Mims withers away on the bench, then yes.

However, the team is currently heading into Week 2 of a 17 game season. Anything can change week to week. Mims could see his time on the field steadily increased while he returns to his original weight of 217 and masters the positions that Saleh has specified.

Next. NY Jets: Ty Johnson talks Robert Saleh, Zach Wilson, and much more in exclusive interview. dark

If all is aligned for Mims to break out onto the scene and he is still being held out by the coaching staff, then feel free to yell and shout.

Until then, put down your pitchforks.

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