Stop it, Jerry Jeudy is fine

Denver Broncos WR #10 Jerry Jeudy. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos WR #10 Jerry Jeudy. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

In a wild turn of events during the 2020 draft, the Denver Broncos had two of the top three wide receivers available to them, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb.

Obviously, the Broncos made the right decision in selecting former Alabama star Jerry Jeudy.

Let’s put to rest the notion that Jeudy had a rough rookie year, and let’s stop using the word ‘bust’ to describe his rookie season, as it was anything but, and Jeudy is poised to have a monster year in 2021.

There are many ways we can prove that Jeudy had a very productive rookie year, so we’ll start with the most common ones.

Firstly, Jeudy is a kid, literally, he is still just 21 years old.  Many rookies don’t come into the NFL until they are 23, or even 24, but Jeudy had turned 21 in April of 2020, so, by the time the season started, he was a young 21.

Age matters, and Jeudy is still a very young player in this league.  This can bode well for the Broncos, as Jeudy can enjoy a long and productive career in Denver, hopefully.

Secondly, COVID greatly impacted everyone, especially the rookies.  Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and that’s how all of the NFL teams had to approach this offseason.  With stringent guidelines in place, limited in-person gatherings, teams were forced to operate their offseasons via Zoom, Google Meet, etc.

What does this mean, exactly?  For a team like the Broncos, this meant a lot.  With new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, the Broncos offense was forced to learn a new offense via Zoom.  They weren’t able to gather at the practice facility during much of the offseason, and this hurt the team greatly.

It was clear that the offense took quite a while to get going, and the struggle was even evident for some of the team’s veterans, let alone a 21-year-old kid.

To me, it is an objective fact that the limited in person communication during the 2020 offseason did much more harm than good, and prevented many teams, including the Broncos, from realizing a promising potential until late in the year.

Thirdly, the injury to Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton dealt a massive blow to the team.  Sutton enjoyed a career year in 2019, amassing over 1,000 yards with Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and Drew Lock throwing him the ball.

Sutton was poised to take another leap forward in 2020 and was clearly the Broncos best skill player.  Teams were going to scheme their defenses against Sutton, which would have allowed the likes of Jeudy to enjoy early success.

With Sutton’s untimely injury, that set the stage for Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick to take over the bulk of the work.

Teams seemed to gravitate toward eliminating the threat of Jeudy more than Patrick, simply because Jeudy appeared to be the better player.  This, in turn, allowed Patrick to have some early season success of his own while Jeudy adjusted to the NFL.

As the season progressed, Jeudy settled in more and enjoyed potentially a career day during the final game of the 2020 campaign.

Now, let’s look at some statistics.

With a nice push to finish the season, Jeudy ended up being the team’s leading receiver.  He ended the season with one more reception than Patrick, 114 more receiving yards, and 2.0 more yards per reception.

For some context, Jeudy had 10 more receptions, and 152 more receiving yards than Sutton did in his rookie season.

All of the attention Patrick got as he enjoyed a solid year was definitely warranted, but Jeudy simply had a better statistical year.  Not too shabby for a 21 year old kid.

Jeudy’s 2020 stat line looked like this; 52 receptions, 856 yards, three touchdowns.  Not only that, his 16.5 yards per reception was good for seventh in the entire NFL.

In a vacuum, every time Jeudy caught a pass, he made it interesting.

Now, it’s time for some advanced statistics, especially related to Lock.

Let’s face it, Lock stunk this year, mostly.  And his poor play had an impact on the entire offense.

So let’s take a look at that.

For starters, he was statistically one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL this year.  He threw for just 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, which led the league, and he completed just 57.3 percent of his passes, which was last in the league.

Furthermore, according to PFF, as of December 23rd, 2020, Lock had the third lowest adjusted completion percentage on deep throws, just 29.8 percent.  That isn’t good, y’all.

Continuing on, Lock was sixth in the league in interceptable passes with 27, only managed a 67.8% percent completion percentage from a clean pocket, which ranked 35th in the league, and only 69.8 percent of his passes were deemed catchable, which ranked 42nd in the league, all according to 

So, what does this mean for Jeudy’s sake?  Well, when he was targeted, there was a very good chance the pass was in traffic, a dangerous throw, or simply not in the right spot.  Jeudy often had to do extra work to haul in a pass from Lock, and this, in turn, hurt his catch rate.

Jeudy managed a neasly 46.0 percent catch rate in 2020, meaning Jeudy only caught 46 percent of the targets that Lock threw his way.  Sure, Jeudy struggled with drops, but Lock’s poor performances hurt Jeudy even more.

Do you see the issue?  If Jeudy had even Kirk Cousins throwing him the ball, he would have had a monster year, just look at Justin Jefferson.  The subpar quarterback play from Lock greatly limited not only Jeudy, but the entire offense.

Obviously, there are many rumors swirling around the league about potential franchise quarterbacks being on the move, and the Broncos have been linked to a few.

Even if Lock is the guy to start the 2021 season, I believe we can expect a breakout year from Jeudy, especially if Sutton returns to his 2019 form.

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So, let’s stop this notion that Jeudy has been a bust so far, or that he did not live up to expectations.

The instant gratification we seek from rookies is repulsive. I understand that many rookies have taken the league by storm, like Jefferson, Justin Herbert, Deshaun Watson a few years ago, among many others.

This mindset has essentially backed rookies into a wall, meaning fanbases are quick to label them a bust if they don’t have an elite season.

My question to the Broncos fans who were disappointed in Jeudy’s rookie season is this; what type of season, statistically, should we have expected him to have?  Is leading the team in receiving yards and being second on the team in receptions not enough?

Jeudy will be a Pro Bowl caliber, no, scratch that, All-Pro caliber wide receiver.  This was an absolute grand slam of a selection by former general manager John Elway.

Broncos Country, buckle up, because 2021 is about to be fun.