Denzel Mims could get his chance in the spotlight after all
The New York Jets could head into their season opener against the Carolina Panthers without two of their key wide receivers. Jamison Crowder will miss the game due to COVID-19. Keelan Cole may join him as he is a game-time decision with a knee injury.
Should Cole join Crowder on the bench, the door would open wide for Denzel Mims.
Mims went through a tumultuous offseason that featured a bout with food poisoning (which led to weight loss) and a plethora of reps with the second and third-team offensive units. He then missed two preseason games with a hip injury.
Hype surrounding Mims entering his second season has been mostly quieted for months. But now, Mims may have the opportunity to reignite that hype as there is a possibility he enters Week 1 as a starter in 11 personnel packages (3 wide receivers) alongside Corey Davis and Elijah Moore.
Davis and Moore figure to be the Jets’ primary two wideouts. They were listed as the starting outside receivers in the Jets’ unofficial depth chart.
The roles of receivers are highly interchangeable and both players will likely handle both roles, but Davis appears to be the Jets’ primary X receiver in 11 personnel while Moore is poised to be the Jets’ primary Z receiver. The X receiver lines up on the line of scrimmage on the side without a tight end while the Z receiver lines up off the line of scrimmage on the tight end side.
Crowder figures to be the primary slot receiver in between Davis and Moore. With Crowder sidelined, Cole appears to be the backup slot receiver based on the unofficial depth chart.
That’s plausible, but it would not be the best allocation of talent with Mims available. Berrios and Smith are both undersized, drop-prone, and lack the capability to stretch the field.
The trio of Davis, Moore, and Mims would unquestionably be the Jets’ best unit with Crowder and Cole sidelined.
To get Mims in the game alongside Davis and Moore, the Jets would be forced to rotate – a luxury they can afford thanks to the versatility of Moore.
Davis can remain on the outside while Moore slides inside and plays the role of the slot receiver in 11 personnel looks.
That would open up a vacant seat at the Z receiver spot – the perfect role for Mims.
A team’s Z receiver typically must be able to provide one of two traits:
- the ability to be a threat off of motion (they are allowed to be used in motion since they are off the line of scrimmage)
- good run blocking (since they line up on the tight end’s side, the ball will often be run in their direction)
Moore is a smaller, shiftier Z receiver who can take advantage of his off-the-line alignment to threaten defenses with jet sweeps, end-arounds, and other forms of pre-snap motion.
Mims, on the other hand, threatens defenses with his size and run-blocking ability. With Mims on the field, teams will respect the possibility of a run to his side more than they would with Moore in his position, forcing defenders to creep up and feel more inclined to play the run. That will open up more room for the Jets to operate down the field out of play action.
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Plus, Mims can benefit from the attention devoted to other players on his side, be it the tight end or Moore in the slot. The Jets can maximize Mims’ excellent YAC ability by sending him on routes over the middle beneath clear-outs or deeper routes by Moore.
Another intriguing aspect of having Mims and Moore on the outside is the idea of using Mims as a lead blocker on screens to Moore. Mims has shown the ability to create significant vertical movement on smaller defensive backs once he gains control of a block. He can create a ton of room for Moore to operate.
However Mims is utilized, the bottom line is that he may be on the verge of getting a golden opportunity to erase everything that happened throughout the past eight months in one afternoon.
If Cole does not suit up, Mims will have the chance to show the coaching staff that he belongs next to Davis and Moore as one of the three core receivers in Mike LaFleur‘s offense.
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