Positional analysis: Wide receivers

January, 19, 2012
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This is the third part in a nine-part review of the 2011 season, a position-by-position analysis:

Position: Wide receivers

Overall grade (on a scale of 1 to 10): 6.0

Depth chart: Santonio Holmes (16 starts/1,027 plays), Plaxico Burress (13/889), Jeremy Kerley (1/320), Patrick Turner (1/193), Derrick Mason (0/169), Eron Riley (0/3), Logan Payne (injured).

2011 headline: Receivers Flunk Chemistry 101.

Gold star: N/A

Disappointing: Holmes.

Stat check: Holmes has gone 25 straight games (counting playoffs) without reaching 100 receiving yards.

Analysis: The Jets thought they pulled off a coup by re-signing Holmes and adding Burress and Mason, and dumping Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith. Man, were they wrong. This was a classic case of a front office overlooking the importance of intangibles. Burress had zero chemistry with QB Mark Sanchez, and Holmes regressed in terms of his rapport with Sanchez. It was ugly.

Holmes (51 catches/102 targets) and Burress (45/97) ranked among the worst in the league in completion percentage. It's hard to believe, but neither receiver managed a reception longer than 38 yards. You knew it would be rough for Burress, coming off a two-year prison sentence, but Holmes? Very strange. One opposing scout said Holmes lack his usual explosiveness. In fact, he had only eight receptions of 20+ yards and he averaged only 3.8 YAC. The Jets paid him like a franchise receiver ($9 million per year), but he was anything but -- although he was victimized by a lack of creativity in the passing game. How many slants can one team run?

Burress filled the void for a red-zone receiver, finishing with seven TDs inside the 20 (tied for seventh in the league). He used his 6-foot-5 frame to dominate in tight quarters, just like everyone figured. But between the 20s, he was a non-factor, unable to separate because of his diminished speed. By the final month, Burress was out of gas, managing only eight catches in the last four games.

Mason (13/21) was a waste of time and money; he should've retired after last season. Kerley (29/46) did an admirable job in his place, showing sure hands and short-area quickness. It's difficult for a rookie to handle the slot position, and Kerley did quite well. Some close to the team believe he should've had more playing time down the stretch, replacing Burress. Turner (8/15) flashed as a blocker and made a couple of big catches.

2012 free agents: Burress (UFA), Turner (RFA).

On the bubble: Holmes.

Note: Play counts, which include penalties, are from Pro Football Focus.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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