Can Kerley turn the offense around?
Florham Park, NJ – Three points certainly won’t get it done against the Raiders this Sunday. It’s hard imaging three points beating any NFL team. That makes the return of Jeremy Kerley especially important.
Kerley leads the team in receptions this season, but has been out during the three-game losing streak. He has practiced fully this week, and is expected back in the lineup on Sunday.
“I think Kerley has really been outstanding as a slot receiver this season for us,” said Rex Ryan. “When Jeremy is out there—that matchup for anybody—he’s got great separation, quickness, and obviously he can catch the football well. So, it’s great having him out there.”
Outside of Kerley it’s hard to find a reliable receiver on this roster. Stephen Hill hasn’t developed into the receiver the team hoped, Santonio Holmes has been a shell of his former self, David Nelson and Greg Salas have been pleasant surprises, but that has more to do with the expectations they had than their production on the field.
“It sucks not being out there. Only being limited to the training room and seeing guys out there working hard, it sucks,” said Kerley. “I’m excited about coming back.”
The last home game Kerley was healthy for was against the Patriots. He had 8 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. More importantly those eight catches came on 10 targets, showing Kerley’s reliability.
Overall Kerley is hauling in 65% of his passes this season. To put that in perspective, Hill has been the Jets most targeted receiver this season with 59, and has only caught 40% of those passes. Nelson has caught 48% and Holmes has 36%.
It might be coincidence or even just rhetoric from Ryan, but Kerley’s return has coincided with the Jets best offensive week of practice.
“Guys came out full of energy, bouncing around,” said Ryan. “Obviously, we need that. It’s just hard to explain but it was out there today. The ball never hit the ground. From the timing, the tempo, everything, blitz pick-up. Offensively, (it was) a really outstanding practice.”
Now let’s see if that can translate into production on the field.
Almost every aspect of the team has struggled so far this season. Mired in a three-game losing streak where the offense has been borderline non-existent, it’s hard to find any positives. But there has been one accomplishment that has been overlooked.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson is about to start his 125th consecutive game this Sunday. He will become the first Jet in the team’s history to start the first 125 games of his career.
“I’m happy that I’ve been picked to play this position for this long and I’m still fighting every day to represent for the left side,” said Ferguson. “So, it’s a great challenge, but it’s something that, again, it’s what I do and I’m happy to be in this position.”
While Ferguson hasn’t had his best season, he is still the Jets best offensive lineman and honestly might be their best offensive player. That might not seem too encouraging, but for a team that is rebuilding (it was true when the season started and it’s true now) it’s important to start strong in the trenches.
Ferguson and the rest of the offensive line will need to have a good performance this week. They’re going up against a Raider team that loves to bring creative pressure. Perhaps the best thing Ferguson can do is help Brian Winters this week, as he’s been struggling the last few games.