In the first game of his NFL career, Denzel Mims was a focal point of the offense while showing some intriguing signs as both a pass-catcher and blocker.
At long last, tantalizing Baylor product Denzel Mims made his NFL debut, playing 45 offensive snaps (78.9% of the team’s 57 offensive plays) in the Jets’ 18-10 loss to the Bills.
Over 27 routes run, Mims caught 4-of-7 targets for team-highs of 42 yards and two first downs on a day where the Jets accumulated just 91 yards of passing offense and five passing first downs. Mims run-blocked on his other 18 snaps, and showed plenty of promise on those plays as well.
Mims lined up out wide on 35 snaps (72.9%), in the slot on nine (20.0%), and at H-back on one (2.2%). As an outside receiver, he lined up on the right side of the field on 28-of-35 (80.0%) snaps. However, as a slot receiver, he lined up on the left side on 7-of-9 (77.7%) snaps. The Jets sent Mims in motion pre-snap four times.
Let’s take a look at Mims’ first NFL action.
Mims was a tenacious blocker at Baylor and wasted no time translating that ability to the NFL. On La’Mical Perine‘s five-yard touchdown run, Mims jolted out to the second level and plowed Tre’Davious White into the end zone to pave the way for his fellow rookie.
On this play, Mims goes in motion and sets up in the left slot, with Bills slot corner Taron Johnson following him. Johnson lines up about four yards off the line. Mims sells a vertical route and then aggressively engages on the block, sustaining it for over two seconds. Frank Gore picks up seven yards and Johnson is unable to come anywhere near him.
Mims is downright fearless. Here, Mims blocks down to chip the 5-technique, which is 260-pound Mario Addison. While Mims gets absolutely shellacked by Addison, the force of Mims’ block holds Addison in place long enough to keep him from getting outside and defending the edge. Perine is able to pick up eight yards on third-and-3.
Sam Darnold hung Mims out to dry too many times in this game. Darnold botched an easy touchdown opportunity to Mims, and on three of Mims’ four catches, Darnold delivered an imperfect throw that made Mims’ catch more difficult and took away potential yardage after the catch.
Here’s a look at Mims’ first catch as a Jet. Mims motions from the right slot into an H-back position behind George Fant at right tackle. The Jets fake a split zone run with the offensive line sliding right and Mims coming across as if he is going to pick up the back side defender. Instead, Darnold keeps the ball and rolls left looking for Mims. Darnold waits too long to get the ball out and places it too far inside. All YAC potential is erased as Mims is forced to adjust back to the ball and attempt to catch it through a helmet shot to the chest from a defender coming at him full speed. Mims pulls the ball into his body and hangs on through the hard contact for a tremendous five-yard grab, bailing out Darnold.