Does anyone remember that the New York Jets still have wide receiver Stephen Hill on the roster? Neither did I.
After a big Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills, Hill has all but disappeared from the Jets offense. Over the past six games, Hill has only 10 catches for 107 yards and no touchdowns. And this lack of productions does not have to with opportunities.
With the Jets suffering from injuries to their wide receiver core all season, Hill has been relatively healthy. Hill has participated in 466 of the 612 offensive snaps, a team-high 76 percent, despite missing almost an entire game with a concussion in Week 5. Still, rookie quarterback Geno Smith has only targeted Hill 24 times in the past six games.
Hill says his role in the offense is not frustrating, per ESPN:
No, it’s not. I go out there and do my job every play. I block when I need to block, and they get big runs off that. It showed [Sunday].
Hill made some key downfield blocks on running plays last week against the New Orleans Saints, but no wide receiver is drafted in the second round for their run blocking prowess. At 6-foot-4 and a 40 yard dash time of 4.36 seconds, Hill was expected to be a big-play receiver. Half way through his second professional season, he has been disappointing.
To some extent, Hill’s lack of production over the past six weeks has to do with the Jets renewed dedication to the running game. Since wide receiver Santonio Holmes was hurt in Week 4, and because of Smith’s inexperience, the Jets have curtailed the deep passing game to be more conservative offensively. Hill, who at this point in his career can only stretch the field with his size and speed, has seen his role change from a deep threat, to running clearouts for possession receivers Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson and run blocking.
Hill, who is only 22, still has plenty of time to learn and grow within a young offense. Also, after this week’s bye, the Jets play the Bills again, who Hill dominates. Hill has 197 receiving yards against the Bills, about a third of his career total.
“It could be a turning point,” Hill said. “I play well against Buffalo, but I’ve only played Buffalo twice. I don’t know what that means. Those were just mismatches at those times and we had good opportunities.”