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Jets' Robby Anderson says he's a top NFL receiver "when given the opportunity"

Robby Anderson of the Jets runs a reception

Robby Anderson of the Jets runs a reception against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Robby Anderson envisioned this season going very differently.

He expected to be a major weapon on a high-powered offense, putting up the kind of numbers that would earn him No. 1 receiver status and money.

Adam Gase’s offense hasn’t been what it was made out to be, and the stats aren’t there for Anderson. But he still believes he’s one of the top five at his position.

“I honestly feel like I’m one of the best receivers of the NFL when given the opportunity,” Anderson said after practice Thursday. “If you look, when I’m given those opportunities and get those multiple targets, I put up those numbers that people that are considered top receivers do.

“I feel like I’ve done that on a consistent basis throughout my career when given the opportunity."

Opportunity knocked the last two games and Anderson answered with 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown. But the five games before that, Anderson totaled nine receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown.

This has been the story of Anderson’s last two years. He’s been enigmatic, and it could cost him this offseason.

Anderson will be a free agent. The Jets explored trades for Anderson before the trade deadline. He was ecstatic that they held on to him. He didn’t sound as positive about wanting to re-sign with the Jets.

“It’s going to work itself out,” Anderson said. “I’m not really focused on that right now. I’m focused on playing the Dolphins and getting a W.”

The truth is, Anderson could be playing his final four games as a Jet. He’s going to be looking for a big contract, and they’re not going to overspend for him.

But Anderson, whose 36 receptions are tied for the 78th-most in the NFL, said he’s not worried that his payday will be affected by his lack of production.

“I don’t really try to pay that no mind,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t dictate a player’s potential and overlook what they have done. I don’t really think that that’s going to be a factor. I’m still the player I am. It’s just the situation that’s been going on.”

It’s not all on Anderson. Last year, Sam Darnold was a rookie and former offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was conservative. None of the Jets receivers were happy last year.

Gase has been more aggressive, but the offense was set back very early when Darnold contracted mono and missed three weeks. Overall, though, Anderson has been either the invisible man or forgotten man, depending on circumstances.

“He keeps trying to get open and he has been a lot of times,” Gase said. “It’s not really him. It’s whether the protection broke down or the ball doesn’t go there due to coverage. It hasn’t really been anything he’s done. We just keep reminding him, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, and the ball will come your way.’ ”

Gase has been calling Anderson’s number more lately. His targets have been up. He's been thrown at 15 times the last two games compared to 53 the first 10.

“I’ve had pretty good games when given the opportunity,” Anderson said.

Anderson has shown recently that he can do more than beat defensive backs deep. He’s also done a better job of coming back to balls and making catches in traffic. Both had been knocks on him.

“He’s been doing that the last month in practice,” Gase said. “He’s been attacking the ball. If it’s a shorter throw or if there’s somebody in there, he’s been aggressive to the ball. I think it’s translated over to the games.”

During that stretch when he wasn’t targeted much, Anderson said he didn’t voice his displeasure to Gase or Darnold. He just kept working. It’s paid off the last two games, as Anderson continues his quest to prove he’s a top five receiver.

“I believe that I am that,” Anderson said. “I know the work that I put in. I know what I’m capable of doing.

“Numbers don’t necessarily always determine that because people can have like 1,200 yards and have one touchdown and their team’s not winning. There’s some dudes playing on Super Bowl winning teams and not have 600 yards. It’s people’s opinion. It’s just the value that you bring to your team.”

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