Play-calling, Sam Darnold could stymie Denzel Mims’ growth with Jets

Denzel Mims Jets
Denzel Mims has begun to look like a legitimate outside threat for the Jets.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Whether the Jets want to sabotage their chances of making some semblance of progress in a lost 2020 season is ultimately their call with the No. 1 draft pick still very much in their sights.

Falling to 0-10 after their Sunday loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, they became the first team in the NFL to be eliminated from playoff contention — something that was a foregone conclusion after watching roughly eight quarters of Jets football at the start of the season.

While head coach Adam Gase has done all the work necessary to expose himself as the wrong man for the job, he added to his laundry list of puzzling decisions Sunday by forcing the Jets offense — which was buried in a 24-6 hole at halftime — to focus solely on the run over the first two quarters.

They abandoned that idea in the second half and nearly tied the game behind veteran passer Joe Flacco’s 175 yards over the final 30 minutes, but they came up a touchdown and two-point conversion short. Had the Jets gone to their aerial attack earlier, they might have at least forced overtime.

Again, though, that depends on if the Jets truly want to win football games over securing the No. 1 pick and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with an 0-16 record.

With there being few positives to take out of the dumpster fire of a season for Gang Green, the last two games have suggested the Jets are finally committing to at least one of their young talents as rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims has impressed.

Flacco has made more of an effort to feed the second-round pick out of Baylor, targeting him 16 times over the last two games with seven receptions for 133 yards.

Especially in Week 11 against the Chargers, the 6-foot-3 talent was a menacing presence on the outside, showing the first flashes that this can be a consistent, legitimate deep threat for New York’s offense.

Mims posted the most air yards — measuring the total distance that a football is thrown beyond the line of scrimmage to the point of reception — of any receiver in the NFL last week with a total of 241.

With Sam Darnold hopeful to return from a shoulder injury in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, questions will immediately arise if Mims will have the opportunity to build off the momentum of the last two weeks as the Jets’ deep threat. After all, Darnold has averaged just 5.5 yards per pass attempt this season — the lowest of any NFL quarterback.

Should that trend continue, Mims will be a non-factor for as long as Darnold remains under center; which might not be much longer if the Jets get that first-overall draft pick.

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