Don’t hit the panic button on Jerry Jeudy just yet
Despite failing to exceed early ‘Mile-High’ expectations, there’s no need to worry about Jeudy’s future in Denver.
After the Denver Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy with the No. 15 overall pick this year, it was clear he was expected to produce for this offense sooner rather than later.
While he has seemingly struggled with consistency this season, he continues to show flashes of what is to come in the near future.
Is Jerry Jeudy really underperforming?
The short answer to this question is no. Shortly after being drafted, many around the league gave rise to some high expectations, as is common with first-round talents. Others went as far as to state Jeudy would surpass Courtland Sutton as the team’s number one receiving option this year.
However, being an effective pass-catcher in the NFL is more complicated than it may seem. Fundamentals, timing, and solid chemistry with the quarterback all play enormous factors in the amount of success a receiver sees throughout the season.
Jeudy’s first-year success has been hindered by an abundance of unfortunate events, the loss of Sutton being the biggest of them all. It may seem ironic considering the veteran wideout would reel in more targets, minimizing opportunities for Jeudy. However, the loss of Sutton leaves room for defensive coordinators to scheme carefully against Jeudy.
Plenty of other rookies this year have benefitted from starting alongside a clear-cut number one option. Just to name a few: Vikings’ Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson, Cowboys’ Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, or Steelers’ Juju Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool. The Broncos will likely have to wait until next year to see Juedy and Sutton on the field together at full force.
Another ongoing blow to Jeudy’s development is his lack of chemistry with Drew Lock. In a year where offseason training was extremely limited, the QB to WR connection was further put on hold after Lock was sidelined with a shoulder injury in Week 2. Jeudy was left to work with backups Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien before seeing Lock back under center in Week 6 against New England.
Despite early team misfortunes, Jeudy still has plenty of individual issues to work on. His biggest area of concern has been consistently catching the ball. Unlike his college days, Jeudy has not been asked to make too many circus catches in the NFL.
In fact, his drops seem to come off the easiest of pass attempts. His biggest drop came against the Titans in the season opener, in which Jeudy had a chance to seal the victory for the Broncos. Look to see Jeudy clean these things up as the season progresses.
Now, at the halfway mark of the season, the chances for a break-out game could not be any better. In the coming weeks, the Broncos are set to face the Chargers, Falcons, and Raiders, all of whom rank among the 10 worst passing defenses in the league. A better matchup could be what this young and struggling offense needs to get things going. Tim Patrick’s surprising emergence should also draw more attention from defenses, giving the rookie some more targets.
We could also see Jeudy’s game benefit from some friendly play calling in the next couple of games. Contrary to recent years, we have seen Denver take deep shots more often than not.
Even with Lock’s arm talent, it hasn’t been effective for this young offense. Pat Shurmur might need to dial back on the complexity of the team’s passing concepts. If he can find a way to tailor this offense to his players’ strengths, perhaps we see things start to click in Denver.
Jerry Jeudy is phenomenal after the catch. His ability to create space in his first few steps of a route can be huge for Shurmur if utilized correctly. Quick and short passes to Jeudy could play the role of a safety-blanket check down Lock has been longing for. It would also make early downs more efficient and third downs more manageable.
Jeudy’s rookie year showing so far
When drafting in the first round, teams often look for players who can contribute to the team immediately. Jerry Jeudy has done that for the Denver Broncos this season. Averaging 47.7 yards a game and catching 15 first downs so far, Jeudy has played solidly given his situation and the talent he’s faced on opposing defenses so far.
It’s important to note that receivers usually take some time to develop and mature in this league. Much like Courtland Sutton, Jeudy has shown flashes of greatness in his rookie season, but we can expect to see a more accurate picture of him next year.
As for now, there is no need to hit the panic button on the rookie anytime soon, Jerry Jeudy will be fine.