Denzel Mims’ rookie season has been stalled by injuries, but he still has the second half of the year to show the Jets he can be a big part of their future.
Mims should get plenty of opportunity, if he stays healthy. But the Jets already see that Mims has the ability to make an impact.
"It’s hard to put a ceiling on anything he’s doing right now," coach Adam Gase said. "The sky’s the limit. We just got to keep bringing him along.
"He does have a unique ability to track balls, he’s a big guy, his range, his wingspan, those are rare, rare traits that he has. We got to give him opportunities."
The Jets (0-8) went into Monday night’s game against New England as the only winless team. They’ve already transitioned to a youth movement, and it will continue when they return from their bye.
General manager Joe Douglas said player development is and would be the emphasis. Snaps should be on the rise for all their first- and second-year players.
Mims, a second-round pick out of Baylor, would have gotten his chance from the beginning if not for a hamstring injury that kept him out of training camp. After he returned, Mims aggravated his other hamstring. He ended up missing six games.
He was to play in his third game Monday night, hoping to have more of a positive effect on the Jets’ woeful offense.
Mims caught four passes for 42 yards in his debut two weeks ago and two for 42 yards last Sunday. The 6-3, 207-pound Mims went up and got a contested ball on the right sideline last week against Kansas Cityt.
But he was shut out in the second half both weeks. The Jets were also, going scoreless after halftime in both games. Mims took part of the blame.
"You’re on the field. You take it as it’s your fault that the ball is not moving," he said. "I think it’s my fault that the ball is not moving. I try to ask myself, ‘What can I do more? What can I do to make sure to try and get the ball moving? I’m going to try to do everything I can to help us get the ball moving in the second half."
The Jets were without Sam Darnold because of a shoulder injury Monday night. Joe Flacco started in his place. But they had their three starting receivers for the first time this year – Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Mims.
They hoped that would help solve some of their overall offensive struggles, as well as second-half failings.
Mims has grown close with Crowder and Perriman. He said the two veterans have been very helpful, always giving him advice and answering his many questions.
"Those are my two guys in the room that I look up to and I try to soak in everything they tell me," Mims said. "I’m just learning new things from them. I want to be one of the best in this game. I’m trying to do everything I can to do that. So I’m just learning from them and listening to them.
"I ask a lot of questions. I ask them a lot of questions all the time. I’m the type of person that if I’m not sure about it I’m going to ask you the question. Even if it’s the same question I asked one day and then I ask two weeks later, I’m going to continue to ask it."
Perriman said they talk all the time and that Mims "asks questions all day, every day." He said he and Crowder try to help him with the mental part of the game because Mims has all the physical tools.
"His catch radius is crazy," Perriman said. "If you put the ball anywhere near him, nine times out of 10 he’s going to come down with it."
A number of rookie receivers have been impressive, including Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool, Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb and Denver’s Jerry Jeudy.
Mims might be on that list if he were healthy. But he has the second half of this season, and his improvement and development are priorities for the Jets.
"We've got to find ways to give him opportunities and see what he can do," Gase said. "It won’t all be good, but we can live with that. We've just got to keep trying to figure out what are all the things that he can do. Once we get through all that and know what he does really well, really try to emphasize those things."