On Thursday, coach Rex Ryan said quarterback Geno Smith’s numbers and the outcome of a 13-10 loss at New England might look a lot different had Jets receivers not dropped six passes. When the attention shifted to the receivers on Friday – particularly Clyde Gates, who had three drops – Ryan gave Gates a vote of confidence heading into Sunday’s game against Buffalo.
“Every receiver has drops,” Ryan said. “I know he’s going to have a big day. And you know what? If he drops the first one, go catch the second one. I think that has to be his mentality.”
Without question, that’s the mentality receivers coach Sanjay Lal has been trying to instill in his charges this week. Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley missed the Patriots game while recovering from a concussion, but his return to join starting wideouts Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill means Gates’ role naturally will shrink.
But he still should get some playing time because of the deep threat his speed represents. Gates got open deep a couple of times but dropped both passes, including a touchdown that was overturned after a replay review.
Asked if the drops were a function of the rainy conditions, Gates said, “There were a lot of opportunities, but as far as the weather, that’s part of being a pro is being able to play in any condition…It was just drops. I have no excuse whatever.”
Gates said Lal simply has been encouraging all the receivers to focus better on the task at hand. As for whether he and Smith can strike up a connection in the deep passing game, Gates added, “I want him to know I’m going to be open and make the tough catches, the easy catches, whatever. I feel I can be a good deep threat because Geno has a really good arm, and I have really good speed to get behind the defense.”
During the preseason, free agent wide receiver Ryan Spadola impressed and drew rave reviews from Ryan. But Spadola also had a drop against the Patriots, and when Ryan was asked about the possibility of an expanded role for the rookie receiver, he was blunt.
“I don’t think so,” Ryan said. “That’s about as honest as I could be I think.”
Apparently, it’s still up to the veteran receivers to make the rookie QB look good.