The Jets' two new veteran wide receivers, Mecole Hardman Jr. and Allen Lazard, bring very intriguing skills to the Green & White offensive equation this season ahead of the anticipated arrival of a certain veteran quarterback. Both wideouts confidently mentioned some skills they bring to the table when they spoke recently with team reporters.
In Hardman's case, it's his proven speed talent short and long and his desire to increase his receiving opportunities down the field.
"The role I had in Kansas City was the role that was given to me and the role that I did very well," Hardman said. "Those Jet Sweeps or whatever you see me do, I did the best way that I could. People just put out that narrative that that's what I was capable of doing But I think being in this offense, I probably can show people a little more than just the quick game, the Jet Sweeps, and actually show a little bit of the route tree, catching the ball across the middle of the field or running outbreaking routes, stuff like that, to show a little bit more of my game."
It's hard to question the Chiefs' success the past four seasons, but the numbers bear out that Hardman, while a devastating YAC artist when he caught the ball close to the line of scrimmage and also when he grabbed Patrick Mahomes passes 20 yards downfield, wasn't as effectively used in the midrange passing game.
For starters, of Hardman's 18 touchdown receptions, regular-season and playoffs, 10 went for less than 9 yards, eight were 21 yards or longer, and none were gathered in from 9-20 yards in length. That hole was even larger the past two seasons when he caught seven passes under 9 yards and none of 9+ yards. Here is a breakdown of Mecole's KC receiving stats by yards before and after the catch:
For Lazard, his 6-5 height (OK, his 6-4⅝ height as measured at the 2018 NFL Combine) is one huge part of his game, but he's got something else going for him that he's proud of.
"I have a lot of experience obviously in primetime games, in playoff games," Lazard said. "That's something that hasn't really happened too much here in recent history. So to have that experience, the knowledge, and mentor the young guys, be a pillar in the locker room, were a lot of things that really intrigued me about this spot."
The statistical split that's most telling for Lazard is his receiving averages in non-primetime regular-season games vs. primetime RS games. It could be just coincidence, or it could be the Aaron Rodgers factor. But Lazard definitely has had better numbers under the lights than in the light of day since he arrived in Green Bay in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.
One of the best games of Lazard's career came in a 2020 SNF game at New Orleans. He equaled his career high with six receptions, set his career best with 146 yards, reeled in a career-long 72-yarder from Rodgers, and scored an early TD in the Packers' 37-30 win over the Saints. Here's Allen's career breakdown:
The Packers' regular-season success with Lazard in the lineup in night games vs. day games is remarkable. Again, maybe coincidence, maybe A-Rod, but Lazard's 13-3 record under the lights, with all the losses coming last season, is a trend the Jets will be happy to put to the test with their probably increased primetime exposure in the season ahead.