If you've been out to New York Jets OTAs and it feels like you need a program to name the receivers ... well, don't worry. You're not alone. His main targets out with all kinds of injuries, alleged starting quarterback Mark Sanchez has been playing catch-up with the identities of the guys he's throwing to.
“We’ve come up with some funny nicknames for some of them, because you don’t even know their names and they’re just in there,” Sanchez told Brian Costello of the New York Post on Thursday.
As Lou Brown might have said in "Major League II," Santonio Holmes has a foot thing, Stephen Hill has a hamstring thing, Jeremy Kerley has a heel thing, and Clyde Gates also has a hamstring thing. That leaves some new guys to pick up the slack.
They've got Ben Obomanu, a former Seattle Seahawk who was signed last week. There's Jordan White, who has two games of NFL experience. He and Obomanu are the only receivers going through practice who do, and at one point during the team's recent practices, there were three receivers on the first team -- Joseph Collins, Zach Rogers and Thomas Mayo -- with no real NFL experience at all.
Sadly for the Jets, their current receiver injury situation mirrors what happened in the 2012 season. Holmes was lost for the season with a Week 4 foot injury, and Hill couldn't stay healthy in his rookie year. Kerley led the team with 56 catches and 827 yards, while Hill and tight end Jeff Cumberland tied for the team lead with three receiving touchdowns.
That doesn't excuse Sanchez's frequently sub-par play in 2012, but it certainly helps to explain it.
“Looking back on the whole season, we didn’t have a healthy receiver from the beginning of the offseason to the very last game we played,” Sanchez said. “We never had everybody out on the field that was, on paper, a starter.”
Sanchez put together his worst season to date. He threw just 13 touchdowns to 18 interceptions and ranked dead last among all qualifying quarterbacks in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics. The Jets selected Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft to challenge Sanchez for the starting spot, but no matter who's playing that position, the lack of depth at receiver is a major concern to the coaching staff. Receivers coach Sanjay Lal has a particularly tough job right now.
“It’s hard in the sense that these reps are invaluable right now, especially with a developing group. They’ll never get these reps back. It’s very hard in the sense that you could have been coaching these guys to a different level and you never got the opportunity. But the only way to look at it is you’re building some other guy up that maybe wouldn’t have had the quality reps that they’re getting now.
“You just channel your energy into who’s there. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking, ‘What if?’’’
Rex Ryan said that he expects Kerley, Hill, and Gates to be up for next week's minicamp, but Holmes may have to ride the Physically Unable to Perform list, and none of this does anybody any good right now.
“If we had to play [this week], obviously there would be major concerns,” Ryan said.
When your quarterback doesn't even know who he's throwing to, that's concern number one.