Over the next several weeks, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Randy Lange, Ethan Greenberg and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Who will lead the Jets in receptions in 2019?
EA: While I believe Robby Anderson will reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time, this might end up coming down to a pair of Jets' newcomers in WR Jamison Crowder and RB Le'Veon Bell. When Crowder was healthy in Washington from 2015-17, he averaged 64 receptions. Losing tight end Chris Herndon for the first four games stings, but the acquisition of Crowder gives the Jets one of the top inside weapons in football and he figures to be a critical asset especially on third down. I concur with Bell that people need a reminder of how special this dude is. If you remove the 2015 campaign when he was limited to six games, Bell had 83 receptions in 2014, 75 catches in 2016, and 85 grabs in 2017. Those are ridiculous stats. Adam Gase has emphasized the importance of first and second downs and Darnold taking the sure yards when it's not there downfield — I envision a lot of Bell as a receiver. Quincy Enunwa, an absolute beast after the catch, will be a factor as well. The Jets figure to have good balance, but my money is on Bell because you can scheme things up for him and he can make it happen when the pocket collapses around Darnold.
RL: I'll go with Le'Veon Bell with the proviso that he has to get up to speed quickly in the preseason with Sam Darnold and with Adam Gase's and Dowell Loggains' offense, while also considering he probably won't get a lot of summer game reps. With the Steelers, Bell cleared 80 catches twice, in 2014 (83) and '17 (85). Ten times Jets receivers had 80-plus catches in a season and led the team, most recently Brandon Marshall in 2015. Richie Anderson's the only RB to do it with 88 grabs in his 2000 Pro Bowl season. For a few reasons, it might be easier for Bell to lead the team than a wide guy. Robby Anderson's best season was 63 catches in '17, Quincy Enunwa's was 58 in '16 and Jamison Crowder's were 67 and 66 in '16-17. And of course TE Chris Herndon will miss the first four games. But in an ideal world, Bell, whether as the first read out of the backfield or split wide or as the checkdown, will lift all boats and Darnold will distribute big numbers to all his pass-catchers. As Le'Veon said about the Jets offense in June, "It's not necessarily not enough playmakers. We have a lot of guys. A lot of young guys, though, on our side. So they're looking toward me for me to make the play."
See the Jets Running Back in Photos
EG: To me, this comes down to either Jamison Crowder or Robby Anderson and I'm rolling with the latter. I think this is the year Anderson fully establishes himself as a do-it-all No. 1 receiver for the Jets and, on a side note, will eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. When he broke out in 2017 with Josh McCown under center, he fell 59 yards short of that mark. Just based on listening to Robby talk and seeing him on the field in the spring, he seems to possess a different determination level than before. Back in April when the team unveiled its new uniform, Anderson couldn't hold back his excitement about head coach Adam Gase and said Gase "will bring greatness out of me" and "take me to the next level" in 2019. Now, let's factor in the connection Anderson has with quarterback Sam Darnold. Down the stretch last year in Weeks 14-17, Anderson was targeted 39 times and reeled in 23 passes for 336 yards and three scores. With Darnold entering Year 2 in a more aggressive offense under Gase, I think that only bodes well for Anderson. The team will also be without tight end Chris Herndon for the first four games of the season because of suspension, so look for Anderson to have an increased workload in that span. Assuming Anderson stays healthy, I think he'll lead the Jets in receptions for the second straight season.
OL: Although I think new Jets WR Jamison Crowder is going to have a large impact on the offense in the slot, I'm going to go with fourth-year veteran Robby Anderson. Back in 2017, Anderson proved just how valuable he can be when he recorded a career-high 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns. Something that makes Anderson stand out this season, though, is the confidence and determination he revealed back in April. He acknowledged that in the past he's been labeled only a "deep threat" and is determined to prove that there's more to his game. Head coach Adam Gase wants to implement Anderson more heavily than what we've seen in the past. "Instead of just doing one or two things, maybe we can open that up to five, six, seven things to where he's (Anderson) a threat on multiple levels," Gase said back in March. With TE Chris Herndon suspended the first four games, the offense will have to adjust the first quarter of the season and that could mean a heavier load for the Temple product. With QB Sam Darnold entering his second year and having developed a strong rapport with the speedster last December, I think Anderson is on the fast track to a big year.