Feeling disappointed with Denzel Mims is completely understandable
First and foremost, this is not an attempt to label Denzel Mims a bust (as some have already done) so early in his career. Starting with that understanding is critical.
There are always many factors that determine a player’s early success. Some of these factors include situation, translatable talent, hard work, scheme fit, and, a little bit of luck.
Mims has talent. That is undeniable. He’s big, fast, possesses the ability to come down with 50-50 balls more often than not, and is also effective after the catch. Jets fans saw that last season in the rare opportunities Mims saw the ball come his way.
For a fanbase starving for a good, homegrown skill-position player, Mims’ rookie season was enough to create high sophomore-year expectations. By the end of last season, many Jets fans considered it a foregone conclusion that Mims would be a 2021 starter and one of the focal points of the new offense.
That hasn’t exactly happened—at least not yet.
Once 2021 came along, the Jets were aggressive to address the wide receiver position. Joe Douglas ultimately created a more competitive environment for the incumbents.
Suddenly, Mims found himself thrust in a rabid starting wideout competition on the team that drafted him in the second round the year prior.
For fans, disappointment is fair considering the consensus expectation back in March had Mims starting in an offense that would feature him. Not watching the Baylor product roll with Zach Wilson in the bulk of the team drills stings a bit.
How to analyze the Denzel Mims situation
The Mims situation calls for objective analysis. Emotions and likability must be taken out of the equation.
In the second week of training camp, it is tough to come up with a positive spin on the fact that the team’s 2020 second-round pick is still running with the second and third squads. It’s not what fans expected, it’s likely not what the coaches expected, and it’s definitely not what Mims himself expected.
Don’t ever forget that these players are real-life human beings, not machines. They are humans with real emotion. It’s difficult to believe Mims himself is satisfied with his current depth chart standing.
On the other side of the coin, it’s not like Mims has no options. Nobody’s forcing him into a backup role. Denzel simply must play better. He must show coaches that keeping him off the field is impossible.
Perform in a way that makes removal impossible—similar to Elijah Moore
It’s that simple. It’s also what Elijah Moore is currently doing.
And that’s the main point here: Mims has the ability to do the same thing Moore has done since day one.
He’s talented enough. Performing so well that coaches can’t keep a guy off the field should be the expectation for a former second-round pick that excited everyone when on the field in his rookie year.
Football is simple. Only 11 guys can play at once. Five of them are skill players, and usually, only three of them are wide receivers. Nothing ever comes easy in the National Football League—unless your name is Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes.
Mims’ situation isn’t insurmountable. Four no-doubt-about-it starters aren’t currently ahead of him. This is not the 2014 Denver Broncos.
New York signed Keelan Cole to a one-year deal, a veteran weapon expected to be the team’s fourth or fifth guy on the depth chart when brought on. Jamison Crowder’s role is in the slot, so he and Denzel aren’t really competing.
Moore is a rookie, but he’s currently doing what every fan expected Mims to do: give the Jets no choice but to keep him on the field.
So, it’s OK if you, the hardened Jets fan, feel disappointment with Mims right now. It’s completely fine.
The expectations coming in were understandably high and the Baylor product isn’t living up to such loftiness. Disappointment, then, is only natural.
Mims’ disappointment must be legitimate—at least to some degree at this point. The coaches probably feel the same way.
But it’s also not time to panic.
There are a lot of things that will happen between now and the start of the season. The Jets still have two joint practices, three preseason games, and many more reps ahead.
The best outcome from this whole affair is a hungrier, more determined Denzel Mims who’s ready to hit the field in a way that makes it impossible to remove him.
He’s talented enough to do it. But if he doesn’t, this current and understandable disappointing feeling New York Jets fans are feeling will only grow.