I’ve heard all the chatter. I read all the headlines about how Denzel Mims is a bust, how he will not make the roster in 2022. I’m sure Denzel Mims read those same articles, heard all the chatter too. One thing is for certain; time is running out for Denzel Mims if he expects to be a member of the New York Jets moving forward.
When the Jets were decimated at receiver last year and needed a player to step up, Mims was nowhere to be found. It was not like he wasn’t physically there. He was, but the results were dreadful. He played in 11 games starting 3 but had only 23 total targets on the year with 8 measly receptions for 133 scoreless yards. His catch percentage was 34.8% which is woeful. He had the same amount of receptions as Jeff Smith and less than Tevin Coleman who was an afterthought in the Jets passing game.
But let us digress and see where we came from. Where are we, and what lies ahead?
There were a lot of high expectations coming into rookie camp in 2020 for Denzel Mims. He was considered a steal in the 2nd round with star power written all over him. He was passed by that year by a lot of teams. Mims was the 13th receiver selected in the Draft. He came to camp with an oak tree limb chip on his shoulder ready to prove the other teams wrong then punish them on the field when he got the chance.
Then right away things went south for Mims. The Jets opened training camp in 2020 on July 27th, and by August 13th Mims was sidelined with a severe hamstring injury. He was injured after he took a “really weird step” during drills. The hamstring problems for the Jets that year were not an isolated problem. Running back Frank Gore, cornerback Pierre Desir and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi also missed practice time with hamstring injuries as did (of course) Blake Cashman and LeVeon Bell. The Jets had an inordinate amount of soft tissue injuries in 2020. So much so that Joe Douglas created the Athletic Care and Performance Department that will focus on improving the players’ overall health, nutrition and training. New York used 80 players in 2020 and placed 36 players on injured reserve, tied for the fifth-highest total in the NFL.
Mims battled injuries and the ineffectiveness those injuries caused all year. As a rookie while trying to learn an offense and get on the same page of a QB it is essential that they work as much as they can in the preseason to get a firm footing in the offense. Mims missed nearly all that time with injuries. When he was healthy he was not a favorite of Adam Gase which limited his participation even more. Mims played in only 9 games all season starting 8 and had a scant 23 receptions on 44 targets (52.5%) for 357 scoreless yards.
Coming into the 2021 season it was like starting all over. He had a new coach, a new offense and a new QB. The Jets needed Mims to work in the offseason program in the spring to learn all the things he needed to succeed. It was vital he get that work in with his teammates in the new scheme. Yet fate had cast another blow to Denzel when he became violently ill with food poisoning. If you have ever had food poisoning, especially from seafood (I have it was awful) you know the feeling. But this was no ordinary food poisoning as Mims dealt with severe effects. He ended up vomiting for two weeks and required antibiotics for the same two weeks.
Although he never said where he got the tainted salmon (it’s believed he got it at the Jets cafeteria) he battled the effects for months. His weight dropped down from 217 to 197. He spent 2 two months eating healthy but his weight only increased to 208. Still he was not the same, “It took a big toll on me,” Mims said of the infection. Mims was gaining some weight but he was still gaunt. He lacked explosiveness and strength. Mims’ game is predicated on explosiveness and strength. It was not for lack of effort as Mims flew to Florida before training camp to work with Zach Wilson in August. He was like a car running on three cylinders. He just didn’t have the same athletic ability. He also contracted the Covid 19 virus which was another roadblock to success. Mims was not the same and it showed in practice where he landed in Mike LaFleur’s doghouse. Lack of reps and knowledge of all the receiver positions kept him from the field. It was another lost year.
So it’s put up or shut up time for Mims. You’ve seen all the articles and the chatter. People are rightfully frustrated with Mims and his lack of success. Mims has read those same articles, heard the chatter too. He was a great athlete who did great things at Baylor. No one handed that to him. He worked for it and excelled because he is a competitor. He likes to prove people wrong. He is used to working for what he wants.
This offseason Mims has worked and worked hard. He has been working with his trainer Chad Marr for the last three months and is said to be in great shape. “We did put more size on him, but we leaned him out at the same time,” Marr said. “He is a bigger, leaner version of himself. The leaner and the stronger guys are, the more efficient movers that they are. He definitely needed to put on some size. He had lost quite a bit of size.” It was reported that Mims has dropped his body fat down to 8% but gained muscle at the same time.
Mims recently went down to Arizona with a few other teammates to work with Zach Wilson. People are beginning to take notice of Denzel Mims once again. Daniel Jeremiah said that “Denzel Mims has been off the charts” in recent workouts. Marr predicted that Mims “will an amazing year.”
Joe Douglas recently said, “I would say with Denzel, obviously documented last year with his bouts with sickness and some injuries. I know Denzel’s attacking this offseason. I know he’s in great shape. I’ve had great conversations with his agent. I know he’s working his tail off and I know he’s excited to get back here for OTAs and compete with the rest of his teammates.”
Training camp is months away and with Denzel it’s been one step forward and two steps back but maybe his bad luck can be turned around. It always feels like you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop, but hopefully for Denzel and the Jets this time will be different. Dear God I hope so. The Jets could use another dynamic receiver and Denzel can use some positive feed back. If Denzel can play to his potential it would be a boon for the franchise with another explosive player for a defense to contend with.
Let’s all hope so.
What do you think? Will Denzel succeed or fail?