Ryan Griffin spent the past couple of years catching passes from Deshaun Watson, and now he’s on the receiving end of throws from Sam Darnold.
They’re two different types of quarterbacks, and Griffin, signed just before the start of training camp, is still building chemistry with Darnold. But the 29-year-old tight end believes the Jets are in good hands just as the Texans are with Watson.
“A lot of excitement around here knowing that he’s the head of the offense and the face of this unit going forward,” Griffin said. “He’s only getting better every day. I see him work and his work ethic is unbelievable. He’s out here, he’s working with these guys extra and in the meetings he’s great. He’s young, just like the guy I played with before. These guys, they’re not declining. Every day they’re getting better. It’s really a mindset for these guys. I’m excited.”
The Jets also are excited about Griffin.
They brought him for tight end depth, especially since Chris Herndon — one of Darnold’s favorite targets — is suspended for the first four games. Herndon violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, stemming from an arrest following a two-car crash in June 2018. Herndon pleaded guilty to DWI.
Griffin, the most experienced tight end on the roster, caught 136 passes and seven touchdowns in six seasons with Houston. He appears the likely candidate to fill in for Herndon, who had 39 receptions and four touchdowns in 2018, his rookie season. Adam Gase plans to play Herndon and Griffin together at times in two tight end sets.
“That's been a great pickup for us,” Gase said. “When him and Chris are in there together, you have two guys that can do everything. He can do all three phases you need a tight end to do. He has experience and he knows how to get open. He's been a big, big part of what we've been doing in practice and we'll just keep getting him reps and kind of see how it works out during the season.”
“Griff’s been awesome,” Darnold said. “He’s been great for us so far. With the suspension and all that, we’re looking to see some good things out of him.”
The Jets drafted West Virginia tight end/halfback Trevon Wesco, signed former Bear Daniel Brown and already had Eric Tomlinson on the roster. But when Griffin became available, they decided he would be a good fit.
“A mistake” led to Griffin being available.
He was arrested and charged with vandalism and public intoxication after punching through a hotel window in Nashville the weekend of the NFL Draft. Griffin was found “stumbling on the sidewalk,” according to police. The charges were later dismissed, but the Texans had already waived Griffin.
The Jets struck a deal with Griffin less than two weeks after Herndon was suspended.
Griffin said there were other teams interested. But Jets general manager Joe Douglas and Gase made him feel very comfortable after a rough time in his life and he believed it was the best spot for him.
“It was a mistake,” Griffin said. “I’m past it. I’m here now. I’m playing football. That’s what I want to do. Joe Douglas came in and talked to me and I had a really good feeling. As soon as I sat down with Coach Gase, he was excited to have me here. It was just a good fit all around. Just knowing there was an opportunity for me to step in and really help this offense. That’s the biggest thing. I want to help the team win. I wanted to go to a place where I could do that, and this was the place.”
Tight ends coach John Dunn has been impressed with how hard Griffin is working to pick up everything and called him “a pleasant surprise.” Griffin said all the techniques are the same, but he is being used differently than he was in Houston.
“It’s been different learning a new teammate, new coaches, new system. I feel like a rookie again,” Griffin said. “Coach Gase has the tight ends all over the field. I’ve never played this much outside the numbers. I’m looking forward to helping the offense any way I can.”
Notes & quotes: The Jets re-signed safety Santos Ramirez, who who was with them most of camp. To make room, they waived cornerback Dee Delaney.