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Don't Be Too Down On Stephen Hill's Quiet Night

It's ominous when a wide receiver is praised in training camp but fails to register a single catch during the first game. However, after re-watching the game and focusing in on number #84, I wouldn't be too concerned.

Nick Laham

We've all been here before. We hear about Stephen Hill and how he is progressing, then we get to game-time and he does a disappearing act. We all jump on him, saying he's a bum or a bust and take the base stat-line as a true representation of his performance. 0 catches?  Obviously he was doing nothing, getting no separation and not contributing to the team performance.

However, I went back to watch the game with the sole focus of concentrating my full attention on #84 to see just how bad he was, and what I saw gave me confidence that I shouldn't worry just yet. First of all lets get to the base numbers.  He had 35 snaps and received 0 targets. He was targeted on one play but drew a penalty, which was accepted so officially the target doesn't count. According to ESPN, 15 Jets players recorded at least one reception. However ,Hill was not one of them.   Neither was Kerley, and Decker only had two.

During the Geno Smith series, I didn't see much of Hill at all. However when MIchael Vick came on with the first unit offensive line, Hill became more prominent. He got off the line quicker, he run blocked a lot better and on one play he showed excellent footwork, acceleration, and hand placement to fight the press coverage and get off quickly. He had a yard on his man running a go route and Vick could have gone long.  Instead he chose to complete the short pass over the middle to Jace Amaro.

On another snap with Vick, he again beat the press coverage, using his hands to get the inside lane. A quick throw and Hill would have turned it upfield for a 5-7 yard game. Instead Vick took a sack. I wouldn't be too down on Hill right now; it's pre-season game one. He looked better with his ability to beat press, his routes looked crisper and his acceleration off the line looked better.

I'm not saying he's going to break out, but Hill not registering a catch isn't something to be concerned about.