Austin Seferian-Jenkins has disappeared in the Jets’ offense as the season comes to a close.
After returning in Week 3 from a two-game suspension for violating the NFL conduct policy, Seferian-Jenkins became a force within the offense. He caught 31 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns between Weeks 3 to 8.
Then something happened.
Over the past seven games, Seferian-Jenkins has only 19 catches for 156 yards with no touchdowns. Jenkins seemed to hit a low point in the 23-0 loss to Denver on Dec. 10 when he had one catch for one yard.
“Last few weeks, for whatever reasons, it’s . . . I don’t know,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, nothing has changed on my end. I’m still running hard, still getting open, nothing changed.”
The midseason emergence of wide receiver Robby Anderson is one component of Seferian-Jenkins’ drop in production. Quarterback Josh McCown was looking for Anderson more as the season went on and that took some targets away from thestarting tight end. It also cut into the opportunities for the other starting receiver, Jermaine Kearse.
Seferian-Jenkins also saw an increase in blocking assignments in an attempt to give McCown more time to throw. So, after making a chip block on a rushing defensive end, he would set out to receive a pass but often became one of the last options by the time be broke free.
“When you have a stretch when you’re not getting the ball as much as you like or not seeing targets, first of all, you see what you’re doing,” he said. “You can’t blame anyone else. You see how you can improve and you do what you can. ... I always feel like I’m open; I don’t care if there’s two people on me.”
The tight end was targeted eight times in the loss to the Chargers last week and caught four passes for 21 yards.
Of course, the biggest recent change has come at quarterback. With McCown out with a broken hand, Bryce Petty stepped in to try to prove he belongs in the NFL.
Seferian-Jenkins is trying to do the same thing as he finishes the final year of his contract with the Jets. He is a free agent this offseason and has shown flashes that he can become a productive member of the offense.
The second-half disappearance could hurt his chances of returning to the Jets, but he has shown he can contribute somewhere in the league.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I’m hopeful. I’m not a guy who is going to pout. I want to be more involved because I believe I can help the quarterback and help the team move the ball. From that end of it, [it’s] frustrating, but it’s bigger than just me. The coaches know what they’re doing. I trust in what they believe in.”