We have been hearing great reviews this OTA season about the progression of Stephen Hill. However reader beware, there have been many pre-season champions who failed to produce when the money was down. I've always been a supporter of Hill, drafted out of the Georgia Tech triple option offence, we all knew he needed a little time, but how much time? Throughout the first season, we saw drop after drop, poor route after poor route. During the second season, we didn't see much at all. Unable to stay fit for any length of time, Hill was relegated to watching the games from the stands.
Fans have all but given up on Hill, labelling him a bust and ready to move on. You would think with so much hostility fired his way, he would be aware his place on this team is far from guaranteed, and he may well be spending his last summer in New York. However Hill seems to be oblivious, or is he? in one of the most convoluted quotes I've read in many years, he explains:
"It's not frustrating," Hill told Metro. "I didn't know I've been getting that [criticism]. I don't. [I] didn't know that. The thing is about it, I don't understand it. The way it's written, it's written how it's written but I really don't bother with it. I just go out there and do what I got to do."
So he hasn't heard, but even if he had, he wouldn't really be bothered about it. I find it hard to believe he hasn't heard the criticism. You just have to turn on the TV or radio and you'll hear people writing him off, calling him a bust or a bum, worthless or useless.
We can hardly blame the critics. Stephen Hill has a total of 594 yards and 4 touchdowns over two NFL seasons with the Jets. When you draw a player in the second round with the raw potential that Hill possesses you expect more. Many have pointed to Demaryius Thomas as an example of a late bloomer from the triple option offence. Over the first two seasons, Thomas had 6 touchdowns and just under 850 total yards. As a first round selection you may expect more but the stats are comparable, especially considering the time Hill has missed through injury. In his third season, Thomas broke out to the tune of 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns, can we expect the same from Hill? It's possible but I wouldn't say likely. However you need to remember in 2012, Peyton Manning rode into Denver on his rescue Bronco.
Hill has made a declaration that he has learned from his mistakes, he has refined his game and he's ready to make the next step. He's said the Jets brass have given no indication he is out in the cold. If he steps up to compliment Decker, then we'll be laughing but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. I think if he repeats his first or second year production in year three, we'll be waving goodbye to Hill this time next year:
"[I am] making sure my routes are polished, cleaned up. [I am] learning to read certain things - looking at [defensive backs] and seeing what they see, understanding what they're reading. [The coaches] are saying as long as you come out there and keep up the good work, then they're happy. Continue to take it day-by-day. You still have things to work on. I'm guessing, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing they're pleased. I haven't heard anything negative. At least not yet."