It's time for Jets to give Denzel Mims a real chance

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Denzel Mims white jersey looking ball into hands in 2020
Denzel Mims white jersey looking ball into hands in 2020

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The Jets don’t have much of a choice this Sunday, with injuries to so many of their receivers. Based on numbers and depth alone, they have to activate Denzel Mims.

It just shouldn’t be a one-game audition and he shouldn’t just be a place-holder until the other guys get healthy. The Jets drafted Mims in the second round last year because they loved his size, his speed, and all of his skills.

It’s time that they give a guy who could potentially be one of their best play-makers a real chance to go out and make plays.

He will get that chance – and apparently a real chance – on Sunday when the 0-3 Jets play host to the Tennessee Titans. With Elijah Moore and Jeff Smith both out with concussions, and Jamison Crowder returning from a groin injury and getting set for his 2021 debut, Jets head coach Robert Saleh made it clear on Friday that Mims “is going to get some opportunities.” He also added “Hopefully he takes advantage of them. We’re expecting him to.”

Some of that, though, is going to be on the Jets, including Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. They can’t just roll the 6-3, 207-pound Mims with his sub-4.5 speed out onto the field and hope he does something. They need to help him by creating, maybe even forcing those opportunities. They need to make a concerted effort to get him the ball.

Otherwise, it’s a waste – especially in a season that is all about building for the future, even moreso than trying to get a few wins. Mims, all of 23 years old and just 17 months removed from being the 59th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, is theoretically a big part of the Jets’ future. Crowder’s contract expires at the end of the season. Receiver Keelan Cole is only here on a one-year deal.

The Big 3 the Jets should be developing for 2022 and beyond are Corey Davis, Moore, and Mims.

That’s why these first three games have been so surprising, and why there’s been so much angst about the status of a guy who is probably the fifth or sixth receiver on the depth chart right now when everyone is healthy. Mims played just three snaps on offense in Week 1, and then was a healthy scratch the next two weeks.

The excuse was that as a backup receiver, he needed to learn all three receiver spots in the offense, and that he needed to play special teams. But that’s really irrelevant on a team that has desperately needed people who can make plays on offense. Mims has the skills to do that. They need to get and keep him on the field to see if he can.

Maybe that’s why the bar has been lowered a bit for Mims in terms of what he needed to do to actually be on the active roster. Saleh said on Friday that Mims really only needs to know two of the three different receiver positions, and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be on special teams this week. Maybe that’s just a product of the Jets’ injuries and desperation, but whatever the standards are, it at least sounds like the Jets are comfortable enough to make sure Mims is used.

New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (11) rushes against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half of a game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in East Rutherford.
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (11) rushes against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half of a game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in East Rutherford.

“We’re comfortable using him,” Saleh said. “It’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even need to talk to the coach anymore. He’s just out on the football field, he’s getting himself lined up and you’re seeing the speed and the athleticism that he has.

“So it’s just a matter of giving him those opportunities, taking it to Sunday, executing with his teammates and being the guy we expect him to be.”

He can’t be that guy while he’s on the sidelines in street clothes, or running with the scout team in practice. He can’t be that guy if he only gets three snaps – though it’s worth noting that on one of those on Opening Day, he caught a 40-yard pass for one of the Jets’ biggest plays of the year.

Maybe Mims will turn out to be a bust. Maybe his apparent struggles in learning three or two positions is just code for him not knowing enough of the playbook. Maybe that will be really clear on Sunday. And maybe just the fact that he was a second-round pick can’t save him and make him part of the future of this team.

But there’s only one way to find out, and it’s not just by giving him a handful of snaps and then sending him back into oblivion. He had his good moments in an injury-plagued rookie season, catching 23 passes for 257 yards in 11 games while playing for an atrocious offense. That was supposed to be only the beginning for him.

And even after his spring was derailed by a bad piece of salmon and a nasty case of food poisoning, he should’ve been back in the plans as soon as he was fully healthy again. The Jets say he is healthy, so his time has to be now. And then even when Moore and Smith return and Crowder is 100 percent, they have to find a way to keep Mims on the field.

That’s the only way they’re going to find out if their former second-round pick really is what they once thought he could be.