I've always been a big fan of Stephen Hill, with the understanding that it would take him a little while to really develop into a true NFL receiver. He was overdrafted in the 2nd round, based on his phenomenal combine and workouts and raw potential. Drafting any player is a lottery, even the sure-fire can't miss prospects sometimes go south.
However after three games of the 2013 season, Hill had 233 yards receiving on 13 catches and one touchdown. He was targeted 9 times in week one, 8 times in week two and 6 times in week three. However since then, he has had just 107 yards, on 22 targets and no scores.
Hill claims that he is not becoming frustrated:
It's not like he can't get on the field. The healthiest receiver on the team, Hill has participated in a team-high 76 percent of the offensive snaps (466 out of 612), yet he hasn't received too many looks from Geno Smith -- only 24 targets in the past six games.
Hill insisted it's not frustrating.
"No, it's not," he said. "I go out there and do my job every play. I block when I need to block, and they get big runs off that. It showed [Sunday]."
As highlighted in the article, the reason may be because the Jets have really started to draw in Geno Smith in an attempt to limit the turnovers. We saw that even when he's not catching the football, he still has value as a run blocker, as Scott pointed out in his gif breakdown post, his blocking on the outside allowed Ivory to get into the open field:
Hill has played 75.9% of the Jets offensive snaps this season and sometimes he just needs to play intelligent football. If he finishes his route and he can see Geno is in trouble, he needs to work back to the football. However statistics are not everything, Hill is a deep threat that needs to be accounted for. On occasions he'll run a deep flag or post route and clear out the middle of the field for the likes of David Nelson, Kerley, Cumberland, Sudfeld and Winslow. He'll not get anything on the stat sheet for that, but without him stretching the field that space won't be there for those other receivers and for Geno to tuck it and run.
It's frustrating for fans, when you see a 2nd round receiver with big play potential not perform on the field. However despite his receiving numbers going down, he still sees the field a hell of a lot, more than most. That's because even when he's not catching the football he is doing other jobs that are important to victory.
As John pointed out recently in his article regarding the scaling back of the passing game eight of the 19 passing attempts and 5 of the 8 completions against the Saints were thrown behind the line of scrimmage. Hill's numbers are never going to look great like that, he's not a Tavon Austin type player who can get the ball in his hands and then cause problems, he's a straight line speed guy who will blow past your defensive backs.
The coaching staff haven't lost faith with him and neither should we, but with Geno really scaling back the play-book it's not surprising that Hill's number are taking a hit. When Geno starts to feel more comfortable, I'm sure he'll open it back up again and we'll start seeing the receptions rise for Hill.