Florham Park, N.J. - Going into the season, the New York Jets quietly had one of the best receiving cores in the NFL. They returned the best receiving duo in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Quincy Enunwa was flying completely under the radar as a top third option. There was excitement after the preseason was over to see what the three rookies, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, and Jalin Marshall, could do this year. Now that the Jets enter Week Nine of the regular season, things look a little different. Marshall is no where near last year's production due to him being heavily covered. Decker is out for the season and could be out for part of next season. The three rookies have combined for 32 catches for 327 yards. The only positive thing to take away is that Enunwa leads the team with 36 catches and three touchdowns, while also having 502 yards. What also doesn't help is the early struggles of Ryan Fitzpatrick, though he seems to be turning it around. One thing that can help the Jets moving forward into the season is the possible return of Devin Smith.
Smith tore his ACL in December of last year, prematurely ending his rookie season. In 10 games, Smith had nine catches for 115 yards and one touchdown. Smith has missed the first eight games of the season being on the Physically Unable to Perform List. Also on that list was Breno Giacomini, but he was activated to the active roster last week before they played Cleveland.
Smith has been practicing since the week the Jets played the Ravens. Whether he's been a full participant or limited is not fully known, but it's a good sign that he's out there. From the moment Smith started practicing, the Jets have a 21 day window on when they can add Smith to the active roster. The deadline before Smith is stuck on the PUP is November 9, a week from today. It's very doubtful that will become the case, so Smith will likely be activated before the Jets play the Dolphins or the Rams.
Smith was a highly explosive player coming out of Ohio State. In his senior season, Smith had 33 catches for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns. If you do some math, that's 28.2 yards per catch his senior season. For his four-year career in Columbus, Smith caught 121 balls for 2,503 yards and 30 touchdowns. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash time at the combine. What helped with that was the three years he spent on the Buckeye track & field team.
At this moment, the Jets don't have a true deep ball threat. Jalin was potentially that, but injuries early in the season got him lost in the depth chart and mainly on special teams. With Smith playing, Fitzpatrick can let it go deep and Smith will get there. Smith being on the roster also means more opportunities for other receivers. With teams worrying about covering deep, that will open up the short pass game and bring pressure off Marshall to break out.
The Jets need to do something in order to beat Miami. The Dolphins are 10th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 231.4 yards per game through the air. The Jets are 23rd in passing offense, only able to put up 230.6 yards per contest. They are also 16th in third down offense, only converting on 39.45% of attempts while the Dolphins lead the league in third down defense, holding opponents to a 31.25% success rate. Activating Smith will give them a must better chance in getting past the tough Dolphins secondary.