NFL: Jets receivers out to prove they’re better than people think
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Quincy Enunwa knows that most opinions of the New York Jets’ wide receivers are far from favorable.
He and his teammates respectfully disagree.
“How can they know better when they haven’t seen anything?” Enunwa said about the naysayers. “It’s up to us to prove them wrong.”
That’s the daunting task for a mostly ragtag group of 13 wide receivers who have a combined 199 NFL catches for 2,597 yards and 10 touchdowns. Hardly eye-popping numbers and not the type of production that particularly inspires confidence in Jets fans.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who have 1,326 career receptions, 17,314 yards receiving and 134 touchdowns between them, were both cut this offseason as the Jets revamped their roster after a 5-11 season.
The main offseason story line has been whether Josh McCown, Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg will win the starting quarterback job . Once they sort that out comes this next head-scratching question: Who will they be throwing to?
“What’s great about what we are as a group is that we’re a group that has to function as a group,” Jets receivers coach Karl Dorrell said. “Usually, when you have an established player, you can find go-to opportunities for those types of players. This group, we’re still finding our craft, so to speak, because we’re developing.
“Even Quincy, a fourth-year player like he is, is developing into the type of receiver he’s capable of becoming.”
Enunwa is the most experienced of the bunch, with 80 catches for 1,172 yards and four TDs in three seasons over 29 games. He was the No. 3 receiver last season, but shot up the depth chart to No. 1 by default after Decker was cut on Monday — three months after Marshall was sent packing.
“I think every year, it’s going to be the same answer from me,” Enunwa said. “Last year, it was, ‘Do you think you’re going to be No. 3?’ And this year, it’s, ‘Do you think you’re going to be No. 1?’ I’m just going to play and do my best at practice, to battle, and if I come up the No. 1, that’s what happens. But, I just want to play. That’s it.”
The sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2014 was largely used as a hybrid tight end in his first few seasons. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Enunwa has been asked to block in the running game while also contributing in the passing game.
Last year was a breakout for Enunwa, who finished tied with running back Bilal Powell for second on the Jets with 58 receptions — one fewer than Marshall. He led the team with 857 yards receiving and four TD catches, but Enunwa has used this offseason to improve his route running, limit his drops and be an even more effective blocker.
“Quincy’s a stud,” Petty said. “But I’ve got to be honest, that whole room has done a really, really good job. They’re young, they’re hungry and that’s what you want that room to be. They’re all fighting for that No. 1 job.”
Robby Anderson, currently the No. 2 receiver, was anything but a lock to make the roster at this time a year ago. He was undrafted out of Temple and his lanky 6-3, 190-pound frame can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive backs at times.
But with a terrific training camp, the speedy Anderson played his way onto the team and finished with 42 receptions for 587 yards and two touchdowns. It’s not all good news, though for Anderson, who’s facing charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice after sparring with officials who asked him to leave a Miami music festival last month.
After Enunwa and Anderson, no one has more than 19 career catches, which is how many seventh-rounder Charone Peake had as a rookie to go along with 186 yards receiving. Jalin Marshall caught 14 passes for 162 yards and two TDs in his first season, but will miss the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancers.
The rest of the roster is hardly a who’s who in NFL receivers: Myles White (16 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD), Chris Harper (14, 139, 0), Devin Street (10, 152, 1), Frankie Hammond (4, 45, 0) and five rookies, including third-rounder ArDarius Stewart and fourth-rounder Chad Hansen — who are both dealing with injuries — to go along with KD Cannon, Deshon Foxx and Gabe Marks.
“As the season kind of goes, and it’s midseason, somebody’s going to emerge,” Dorrell said. “That’s the pleasant surprise that we all look forward to as a young group.”
Until then, though, the mostly anonymous and inexperienced group plans on silencing the critics.
“I always want to kind of prove what I’m capable of doing every year,” Enunwa said. “I know I’ve got a lot of young guys in the room that are hungry. We’ve got undrafted guys, we’ve got seventh-round guys. We don’t really have any top guys.
“So, if we can come out this year and really prove everybody wrong, I think we’re going to be really happy.”