New York Jets wide receiver Mecole Hardman is surprised by his usage in the offense
The New York Jets’ wide receiver position has been an issue for years. While the team has finally found a star in Garrett Wilson, the depth at the position hasn’t been there so far in 2023.
The team tried to change that this offseason, signing a plethora of pass-catchers. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb made their way from Green Bay to join Aaron Rodgers, and both players have seen plenty of snaps through two weeks. But there was another low-key signing in the offseason that had fans excited: former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman.
Hardman signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Jets this offseason after an injury-riddled 2022 season. Hardman was an excellent prototype to run in Nathaniel Hackett’s K-Gun offense. The Jets also spoke about expanding the route tree of the 25-year-old.
Yet so far, Hardman has been a non-factor in the Jets’ offense. Hardman has only played 14 offensive snaps this season, all coming in the Jets’ Week 2 loss to Dallas. He played zero snaps against Buffalo in Week 1, and in Week 2, he didn’t get any snaps until garbage time – when the team was down by 20 points late in the fourth quarter.
Jets fans have been confused by Hardman’s lack of snaps. Hardman isn’t sure why he’s not playing, either.
“[It’s] a little surprising,” Hardman told The Post after Wednesday’s practice. “Very surprising, honestly. But I’m just here to do my role. When they need me, they need me. If we’re winning games, I can’t complain.”
Head coach Robert Saleh attributed the lack of usage in Week 1 to the fall of Aaron Rodgers, citing that it took away specific packages the team wanted to run. As for Week 2, Saleh cited the team’s lack of time of possession as a reason why the wide receiver wasn’t featured more. But to Hardman (and this Jets writer), it still doesn’t make sense.
“I don’t know, I think I’m practicing hard,” Hardman said. “I think I’m doing everything right. I’ve got a good grasp of the playbook. I’m not 100 percent, but I think I’m in the 90s — 95, 96 [percent] where I could go out there and not mess up. But I don’t know, I think I’m doing good, I’ve just got to keep working hard in practice. Hopefully that shows and I start getting more reps.”
Considering how lethargic the Jets’ offense has been outside of Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall, there’s little excuse why the team isn’t utilizing Hardman.
The former Kansas City Chief has blazing 4.33 speed. The Jets don’t need to feature Hardman in order to utilize him, either. With that speed, the University of Georgia product can be a perfect decoy for the Jets offense.
We’ve seen Hardman’s field-stretching ability on display in Kansas City. Whether it’s running 9 routes or being used in the rushing attack, Hardman can contribute right away to the Jets’ offense. Why the Jets aren’t taking advantage of that is a question that needs answering.
Here's Mecole Hardman's second (!) touchdown for the Chiefs. pic.twitter.com/at3AUWR1yC
— Jeff Rosen (@jeff_rosen88) October 23, 2022
Whether or not you think Hardman is a polished receiver is one thing. But no one can deny his game-changing speed. And for a team like the Jets, who need every advantage they can get, putting the ball in his hands makes sense. After all, there should be zero reason why we’re seeing C.J. Uzomah out wide while Hardman is sitting on the bench.
Why is Mecole Hardman on the bench when there are plays with Uzomah out in this alignment. What exactly does he do to threaten a defense from this spot on the field pic.twitter.com/KTkQVYE7Bk
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) September 18, 2023
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