Playing an NFL season in a pandemic was reason in itself to say that the 2020 campaign was unlike any other. Then add in that the Jets didn't win a game until Week 15 and injuries limited Jamison Crowder to 12 games, this was a bumpy ride for the sixth-year wideout. And despite the turbulence, Crowder remained thankful and optimistic.
"Crazy," he said when asked about 2020. "It's been a crazy, hectic year. In spite of everything going on, I'm just thankful to be here, to be alive and to be healthy. It's definitely been crazy and a year I'll never forget."
Although he missed a quartet of games, Crowder led the offense in receptions (59), receiving yards (699) and receiving TDs (6). He gained 115 yards on 7 catches in Week 1 against Buffalo only to miss the next two contests with a hamstring injury. Then Crowder returned to the lineup in Week 4 against Denver, ripped off 104 yards against the Broncos and followed that up with 116 yards against the Cardinals. He had 7 catches at Miami in Week 6 but then went to the sideline again — this time with a groin injury.
"It's been solid," he said of the production. "It's been up and down like a roller coaster. I started out pretty strong and then dealt with a few knick-knack injuries that sidelined me for about four games. But I've had some games here and there where I've continued to go out and make plays and I've had some games where I didn't really do much. It's been a roller coaster."
Crowder's three consecutive games of 100+yards receiving tied for the second longest streak in the NFL this season. And tracing back to Week 16 of 2019, Crowder set a franchise record of 7+ receptions in five straight contests.
"I just try to go out there and be a valuable target, try to get open and try to keep the sticks moving and try to help the offense as much as I possibly can," he said.
The Jets' top three receivers of Crowder, rookie Denzel Mims and speedster Breshad Perriman played only seven games together and not until Game 9 vs. New England. When the three amigos were in the lineup, the Jets averaged 20.9 points, 1.7 receiving TDs and 220.1 receiving yards.
In the Jets' upset of the Rams in Week 15, Crowder had 6 catches for 66 yards. And then he came back the next week with one of the finest efforts of his career during a triumph over the Browns, catching seven passes for 92 yards, rushing once for 14 yards and throwing a 43-yard scoring pass to Braxton Berrios. In the dazzling all-around performance, Crowder became just the second player in the NFL over the last 60 seasons and the first since 2001 to register at least 90 receiving yards, at least 40 passing yards and at least 10 rushing yards in a single game.
QB Sam Darnold said of Crowder. "He's a great player. He's got such a great feel in space, zone or man breaking away from his guy. He was really good when I got here, and will be really good for a long time."
Since Crowder was so valuable, he got a lot of double coverage from teams, including the Dolphins and the Patriots. The consummate pro stayed patient and upbeat in a season that was marked by turmoil.
"You're not necessarily the guy that's favored in certain games depending on the play call," he said. "It's a team effort and it is what it is. I just try to be a valuable option any time my number is called out there, so it was definitely cool having those three 100-yard games. Obviously dealing with the injuries and stuff like that, that was tough. But it is what it is, it's football, it's a very physical sport and we do a lot of running each and every day. So it happens sometimes, it was just one of those years. I'm just trying to finish out the season healthy and come back next year stronger."
The 5-9, 177-pound Crowder, who has 358 career catches for 4,160 yards and 26 TDs, believes the Jets do have some pieces in places they can build upon and become a competitive team in the years to come. With free agency and a much-anticipated NFL Draft looming, additions and changes are on the way for the Green & White. Robert Saleh pegged Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator and that means more motion and bunch formations for the receivers. Crowder has adapted well throughout his career and the crafty slot receiver will be ready for whatever comes next.
"In this league, if you don't win the Super Bowl, everybody has to make adjustments," he said. "Once the season is over with, you hit the refresh button and it's on to the next year."