Brian Costello wrote today about the training camp troubles of rookie tight end Jace Amaro.
So far, he has struggled. Amaro has dropped a ton of passes in practice and is clearly struggling to learn the offense. He has drawn the ire of quarterback Geno Smith and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in practice, with both of them yelling at him about his route running.
Amaro lined up mostly split off from the offensive line at Texas Tech and has had to adjust to being an in-line tight end, though the Jets are splitting him out wide at times, too. His blocking skills are shaky, but the Jets won’t care if he can become a complementary receiving threat to Eric Decker.
The transition for Jace isn't just about learning what is essentially a brand new position at the traditional tight end spot. He also is dealing with players faster and stronger than he has ever seen before. Back in college there were probably only a handful of competitors capable of physically matching up with him. In the NFL, everybody can play.
There are also new concepts in the passing game. Texas Tech's offense is extremely simplistic by NFL standards. They are heavy on screens, and their receivers tend to run limited routes so Jace has to learn advanced concepts from scratch. This is likely contributing to his struggles.
I'm not privy to the inner workings of how the Jets are handling Amaro, but I am a believer in the role of psychology in situations like this. When you struggle with one thing, it makes you lose confidence. You doubt yourself even on things that used to be routine, like catching the ball for a tight end.
Sometimes the only thing to do in situations like this is to scale things back. Sure, the Jets want Jace to be the kind of guy they can immediately move all over the field, but maybe they need to limit him more off the bat. Leave the in line stuff to Jeff Cumberland and Zach Sudfeld, and let Jace work exclusively out of the slot, where he is familiar. Design some plays to get him the ball with some running room. Use him on routes he's used to running to use his size to challenge the defense deep. Use him in the red zone. Let him get his confidence back and have success doing the things he knows how to do and slowly build from there.