New York Jets: Week 1 Victory Showcased Pass-Catching Talent

Andrew KaufmanSenior Analyst ISeptember 11, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 09: Stephen Hill #84 of the New York Jets jumps over Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills for a touchdown during their season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 9, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Bills 48-28. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Even the most ardent Jet fans didn't think New York's Week 1 victory would be this easy. A dominant defensive performance against a Buffalo team the Jets have owned recently? Sure. Forty-eight points? That's another story.

How the Jets racked up those 48 points was even more surprising. As expected, the offensive line played great, but this was not ground and pound. Instead, the Jets' biggest offseason weakness became its Week 1 strength as New York's pass-catchers were open from the game's first snap.

Luckily for the Jets, that first snap did not prove a harbinger of things to come. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill beat his man on a quick out but dropped Mark Sanchez' first offering. It was the only pass Hill would drop Sunday, but it certainly was not the only time he would get open.

Hill made catches all over the field against the Bills, though it is no surprise that he was able to get open deep, as he did on his first touchdown catch. What was particularly impressive about Hill was his route-running on shorter patterns.

Given the respect owed to Hill due to his speed, short routes are often his for the taking if he runs sharp patterns. He looked great in this area in Week 1, utilizing his big frame to shield defenders and pick up a few critical first downs.

The other breakout performance from the Jets' receiving corps belonged to Jeremy Kerley, the slot receiver who actually does most of his damage outside the hash marks. While Hill was cutting over the middle and using his body as a shield, the smaller Kerley was able to find space towards the sidelines and make a few acrobatic catches. This one-two punch of athletic receivers is alone enough to keep defensive coordinators up at night.

And Hill and Kerley are not close to all that the Jet passing offense has to offer. Santonio Holmes remains the clear No. 1 option in New York, continually requiring a double-team and creating favorable matchups elsewhere even when he is not racking up receptions. Holmes was quietly productive in Week 1 despite missing an incredible touchdown catch by inches.

Tight ends remain a big part of the Jets' offense as well. With Dustin Keller slowed by injury in Week 1, Jeff Cumberland stepped in and took over some of his routes, providing Mark Sanchez with a safety net on a few key plays. In Keller and Cumberland, the Jets have the pass-catching tight ends necessary to take advantage of the attention opposing defenses must devote to Holmes, Hill and Kerley.

While the Bills do not have the strongest secondary in the NFL, it took the Jets less than one half of football to show the league that their perceived biggest weakness may be no weakness at all. The Jets seemingly went from a team with two pass-catching threats (Holmes and Keller) to a team with five overnight, and suddenly they look like one of the more complete teams in football.