For the first time in over three seasons of Jets football, the team has finally had a true target to throw the ball to at the tight end position. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has become a weapon that opposing defenses must now plan for.
At 6’ 6” and 260 lbs, the former second round pick turned heads at the 2014 NFL combine. He ran a 4.56 second forty yard dash – impressive speed for a player that many felt could be the next great hybrid tight end. But his short career has been a roller coaster at that. How has he managed to get where he is today? And what should the league expect to see going forward?
Troubles on the Horizon
Drafted with the thirty-eighth overall pick by Tampa Bay, Seferian-Jenkins had a strong rookie season. He hauled in 21 passes for 221 yards despite playing in only nine games. The Buccaneers were beginning to tap into some serious potential, and the league knew it.
The 2015 season also got off to an impressive start for ASJ. He opened up the year with a 110 yard breakout game, but again, the versatile tight end saw his season cut short, appearing in only seven total games. He finished with 21 grabs for 338 yards.
2016 marked the end of a short era, however. His tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization came to a close as Seferian-Jenkins was released due to a much publicized DUI case.
A New Beginning
Seferian-Jenkins continued his 2016 campaign by joining the New York Jets, being picked up off the waiver wire. It was a gamble-type move for both sides, but the Jets ultimately decided to take the risk that no other team would.
When ASJ eventually landed in the Meadowlands, he immediately took advantage of his new opportunity. He decided to seek help and treatment for his past troubles and openly spoke about the issues he faced in Tampa Bay. He was paving the way for a fresh-start that no one thought he could.
Not sure I’ve seen a #Jets player who wasn’t a top draft pick or big FA signing become as big a fan favorite as quickly as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. His redemption story clearly hits home with many in this NY/NJ fanbase.
— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) November 15, 2017
His final 2016 statistics don’t jump off the page. He finished with 13 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown, but his contributions in the running game and his pass catching capabilities became evident.
Where have you been?
The New England Patriots have Rob Gronkowski, the Kansas City Chiefs have Travis Kelce. The Jets have had, well… very little.
The 2015 season saw Jets tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis combine for an eye popping eight catches and 95 yards. Yes folks, that’s for the season. The 2016 season was not much better as Brandon Bostick was joined by the newly acquired Seferian-Jenkins, but totaled only 18 catches for 173 yards. Very few NFL teams have had success when they receive no offensive impact at the tight end position, just look at recent history.
It’s ASJ Time
In a better place physically and mentally, the 25-year old has gotten off to a great start in his first full season with the Jets. With 41 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns (not to mention the two touchdown grabs that were stolen from him), Austin has become the player that NFL scouts had anticipated.
His blocking abilities continue to develop while he also creates troubles for opposing secondaries. He’s granted more single man coverage for young speedster Robby Anderson, which has paid dividends. Jets offensive coordinator John Morton also knows he has a red zone threat with Seferian-Jenkins. “He’s basically 6’6” a big target, we’ve already scored a couple of touchdowns this season,” Morton said in regards to ASJ’s versatility.
The Future is Bright
The expectation is that Seferian-Jenkins plans on sticking around for the ride. “I would love to be here long term, I love this place. I consider this home for me,” he said despite rumors of the Jets tanking. Now, it will be up to New York to make an appropriate offer to the soon-to-be free agent.
As the 2017 season continues to move along, we can all look forward to the day when Quincy Enunwa returns. It could be a dangerous trio flanked with Seferian-Jenkins to his left and Anderson on his right. Most pundits and Jets fans alike assume that the Jets will be drafting a quarterback in 2018 – What better way to develop the next signal caller than with a great tight end? Ah, what a concept!