When news broke on Saturday night that Santonio Holmes hurt his ribs during the Jets' intra-squad scrimmage - and it was believed that there was a fracture and that he might be out six weeks or so - my head was pounding. Whether that was because I was still feeling the effects from a fun Friday summer evening or because I'm way too invested in the car wreck that is shaping up to be the 2012 Jets, well that's up in the air. But suffice it to say that Holmes going down would be a colossal blow to an already incredibly questionable Jets' offense.
We already previewed the Jets defense (defense first, just how Rex Ryan likes it), and we'll start our look at Gang Green's offense with the receiving corps, which has the chance to range anywhere from serviceable to the worst unit in the league.
Projected 2012 Jets Wide Receivers: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner
We start with Holmes who thankfully did not break any ribs and, another injury notwithstanding, should be on the field in Week 1 against Buffalo. People forget how darn good of a wide receiver Holmes is (a bad season compounded with throwing teammates under the bus and quitting on the team in Week 17 will do that to you). While he isn't a kid anymore, Holmes should still have the big play ability that the Jets desperately need. Last season's lack of even trying downfield passes was a downright disgrace, and hopefully the Jets will rip off some big chunks of yardage with Holmes this year. You have to think they'll at least try to - something they didn't do last year - and as long as Mark Sanchez is still the starting quarterback and Holmes is healthy, the Jets should at least eclipse last year's number of explosive plays, which clocked in at a robust ZERO.
And outside of Holmes, it's a whole bunch of "Who the hell are these guys?"
Well, we do know who Jeremy Kerley is, as he caught 29 balls and one touchdown in 14 games as a rookie last year. But Kerley has been banged up and was called out by Rex Ryan earlier in training camp for having a less-than-stellar offseason...not exactly what you want to hear about a guy who should be relishing the opportunity to prove he belongs in the NFL as a legitimate starting wide receiver. It's safe to say the jury is out on Kerley, who despite showing flashed of athleticism and potential last year is still too young and inexperienced to truly count on. You could tell me Kerley will lock down the number two spot behind Holmes and have a great season, or you could tell me that he'll get relegated to the bench by Week 5 and barely see the field again, and I'd probably believe you either way.
Then we have Chaz Schilens, who when the Jets got him during the offseason had me racing toward a computer and Google and Wikipedia because I had no idea who or what Chaz Schilens was (sorry for not keeping up on my Oakland Raiders reserve wide receivers for the past few years). Also, did you know that, according to his Wikipedia page, his real name is Chazeray? I really hope this is true. As for Schilens as a wide receiver, again, I don't remember having seen him play. A few days ago Schilens took exception to Antonio Cromartie's comment that he was probably the second best receiver on the team, even though he plays cornerback. Now, Cromartie is one wacky fellow, but would he have said that if the Jets still had say, Jerrico Cotchery, or any real true NFL-level number two wide receiver? In 2009, Schilens caught 29 balls in just eight games, so there is a slither of potential there. Tony Sparano's teams have had some middling wide receivers put up some pretty decent numbers before (like the 2008 AFC East Champion Dolphins receiving corps of Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess and Ted Ginn, who miraculously hauled in over 150 combined passes from Chad Pennington - isn't this one of the most incredible feats in the history of football?). But Schilens has been oft-injured ever since putting up decent numbers in limited action in 2009, playing just 19 games in 2010 and 2011 combined.
This past April the Jets used their second round pick on Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech. For my money he's the X-Factor of the Jets receiving corps. By all accounts Hill is an athletic freak, at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, the type of build of receivers like Calvin Johnson and Terrell Owens. Nobody is expecting Hill to be that great, but he could give the Jets a physical presence to take the place of the departed Plaxico Burress in the red zone, while also being effective between the 20s (where last year Burress was as useful there as a single sheet of paper towel is when your entire house is flooded). The Jets are really banking on Hill's build and athleticism translating to the NFL, since he played in an option heavy offense at Georgia Tech. If Hill turns out to be a legitimate target, he should get some looks with defenses focusing on Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller. He seems full of potential and if he can realize it, the Jets' receiving group may not be all that bad.
Patrick Turner will most likely slot in as the fifth option. He caught one touchdown last year, in the Jets' season-ending loss in Miami in Week 17. Let's hope he picks up right where he left off.
Of course, the effectiveness of the Jets' wide receivers is dependent on the play of the quarterback position. We're going to end our Jets' position previews with QB - because it's just a total circus - but for the Jets to be successful in 2012 Mark Sanchez will have to be good. His targets, though, however do leave a little bit to be desired. If you look around the NFL, winning teams are generally ripe with explosive talent at the skill positions - look at the Giants, the Saints...and oh yeah the Patriots, who had about 714 great skill players for Tom Brady to throw to last year, and almost won the Super Bowl, and ADDED Brandon Lloyd. Then you look at how the Jets have re-built their roster and you scratch your head. Sure, the Jets don't have the quarterback play that a lot of the elite NFL teams have, but would it hurt to surround Sanchez with as many great skill players as possible?
Instead, the Jets seem like they want to try to win games 13-6 while handing the ball off to Shonn Greene and running wildcat plays for Tim Tebow all day. Please excuse me while I smash my face in with a sledgehammer.