Chris Herndon has been a huge disappointment for the New York Jets this season. Herndon returned this season after playing in just one game last season due to injury and suspension. The Jets and fans had high hopes for Herndon, however, he has severely underperformed expectations.
What makes it more frustrating is that Herndon had such a strong training camp, that the hype was justified in the eyes of Jets fans and the front office. Unfortunately, it seems as if everyone was misguided.
Chris Herndon’s Breakout Rookie Season
Herndon broke into the league with a successful rookie season. In sixteen games played, Herndon was targeted 56 times and had 39 receptions for 502 yards. Being a reliable target for Sam Darnold, Jets fans were excited for what they thought was the next big thing. However, injuries, underperformance, and lack of talent around Darnold have caused the Jets to go in another direction.
The Jets are now 0-10 on the season after yesterday’s 34-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. After trailing 24-6 at halftime, the Jets fought back to get the game within reach, however, it was too late to complete it. The Jets clearly have their eyes on the number one overall pick and Trevor Lawrence. Whether they like to admit it or not, it’s clear what their plans are.
Several Jets Players on the Chopping Block This Year
As a result, it’s important to look at which players are apart of the Jets’ future and which ones are not. Herndon is one of those players and it’s definitely an interesting question to ponder. The Jets are going to have a lot of decisions to make.
Herndon is not alone in this, however, as other Jets players’ fates will be determined by the front office. However, with respect to the players, much of this cannot solely be placed on the players. Despite that, many players may be playing for their careers in these final six games. Whether or not Herndon remains a Jet beyond this year will be up to the front office. However, I think it would behoove the Jets to give Herndon another shot.
Chris Herndon Struggles Mightily in 2020
Chris Herndon has clearly been one of the most disappointing stories in a season full of them. There were high hopes, but they’ve all come crashing down for Herndon and The Jets. In ten games, Herndon has only been targeted for 27 passes (T-30th) and has 16 receptions (T-36th) for 133 yards (43rd). He is currently far off the pace that he had in his rookie season. He is currently on pace for around 26 receptions and just 213 yards.
Additionally, it took until week ten for Herndon to get his first touchdown of the year. Herndon’s touchdown was a six-yard reception from Joe Flacco with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. That one touchdown now has him tied for 37th in the league. He is also on pace to not match his 2018 number of four touchdown receptions. This is a concerning number that speaks to just how much Herndon has been struggling, which is a lot.
Lastly, his overall player grade stands at a bleak 49.9, making him one of the worst qualified tight ends in the league. As a result, he stands 58th among all qualified tight ends in the NFL. This contrasts immensely from his rookie campaign in 2018, where he ranked as the 15th best tight end in the league.
The most concerning thing from Herndon, however, is his drop %, that is the percentage of balls he has dropped when targeted. That percentage has shot up from under 2% in 2018, to just over 11% this season. Just yesterday, there were a couple of instances where Herndon was unable to convert on seemingly give-me throws from Joe Flacco. What this says to me is that there is more of a mental issue from Herndon, rather than the ability to play.
Chris Herndon Deserves Another Shot
The Jets as a team have all had a tough time of it, no one has been immune. The coaching has been terrible, especially the offense, which was initially led by Adam Gase. It would be fair to give the 24-year old Herndon another shot under a more proven and established coaching staff. He will also have the offseason to reset his mind and come back stronger next season.
It would not be smart, in my opinion, to flat-out give up on Herndon just because he’s had a difficult year. While he has certainly had his struggles, he is not singular in that regard. The whole cast of characters that is the Jets has been horrendous this season. Despite Herndon’s struggles, it would reek of the old Jets regime to cut a struggling player with talent and who’s only 24 years old.
Hire A New And Experienced Coaching Staff Then Re-Evaluate
Instead of leaving players like Herndon out in the cold alone, they need to embrace them and develop them. This starts with firing Adam Gase and a majority of his staff and starting fresh.
The offense under Gase has been an utter disaster and it’s evident that change is vital and necessary for the Jets to succeed in the future. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Jets back Gase as the head coach, though that can easily be just lip service.
Gase has done nothing to warrant another year as head coach. With Trevor Lawrence potentially looming, the Jets cannot allow Gase to ruin another one of their quarterbacks. This means that if the Jets are going to move on from Darnold, they have to move on from Gase as well.
Herndon and many other Jets players would significantly benefit from a change of scenery with the coaching staff. While the Jets may very well move on from Darnold, players such as Chris Herndon should be given another chance.
It would not be smart to cut a young player like Herndon, who still has a year left on his rookie contract. The Jets must allow Herndon to play out the rest of his contract, with his last year being with hopefully a new coaching staff and quarterback (Trevor Lawrence).
Give Herndon the offseason to re-evaluate mentally and commit to doing anything necessary for Herndon and others to make sure that they’re able to bounce back in a big way in 2021. If Joe Douglas and co. can accomplish this feat, then maybe Jets fans will finally get what they had hoped to see out of Herndon this season in 2021 and beyond.