Before the Jets' offseason spending spree brought on RB Le'Veon Bell for the 2019 season, New York added versatile slot receiver Jamison Crowder to the offense as well.
The 5-foot-9, 177-pound Crowder is expected to be a very valuable asset for Sam Darnold in his sophomore season, and the Jets paid him very handsomely to be that guy with a three-year, $28.5 million deal with $17 million guaranteed.
But will the Jets have a problem with Crowder joining Quincy Enunwa in the receivers room?
ESPN's Rich Cimini did a poll with NFL scouts to see what the Jets problems might be this season, and this question was among them. Crowder is a natural slot man and he should be featured there throughout the season. Last year, ankle issues had him only play in nine games which led to 388 yards on 29 receptions and two touchdowns. In 2017, he had a much better season with 789 yards on 66 catches and three touchdowns.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is going to miss Crowder in his offense this season because he knows what he provides his quarterback. Crowder's speed and ability to get open in the middle of the field gives the quarterback an easier throw most of the time, which is why Crowder saw 103 targets come his way in 2017.
"He'd be a great benefit for a rookie quarterback or a 15-, 20-year veteran quarterback," Gruden said. "He's a great player. Great players make it easy on quarterbacks, especially in the slot. Those guys are a quarterback's best friend. You see what [Julian] Edelman does, what [Danny] Amendola has done, obivously Jamison Crowder. Guys like that, Cole Beasley, are a quarterback's best friend. It's a lot easier to throw those intermediate throws than to throw outside the numbers and read man and zone. Some of those option routes, these guys get open no matter what the coverage and those are easier throws. Those guys can make 5-yard gains into a 25-yard gain. That's what Jamison's speciality is."
However, Enunwa has proven to be more effective working out of the slot instead of outside. Cimini points out 21 of his 38 catches came from there last season, and new head coach Adam Gase has noted wanting to use him in different ways this year.
"I want to make sure we do a good job of giving him variety," head coach Adam Gase said.
Enunwa has also spent a full season with Darnold, and their chemistry looked great before injuries plagued him again at the end of the season. But, when Gase says he wants to add variety, he could be talking about getting Enunwa out of those slot situations. Normally, it's Robby Anderson that is catching the deep ball, but that may change in Gase's schemes.
Being that the Jets spent as much as they did on Crowder, you can bet he will be the team's primary slot recevier. But Enunwa also got a nice extension worth $35 million over the next four years, so they will need to get the most production out of him as well. That could lead to him working out of the slot at times, but he will have to find most of his success on the outside for Gang Green this season.