Have Jets lost faith in Hill?

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
3:35
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On a key third-down play Sunday, Mark Sanchez looked for Stephen Hill on a quick slant. Hill was open at the Rams' 18-yard line. A completion would've been a first down and perhaps a touchdown. Sanchez double-clutched and ...

Threw the ball to Konrad Reuland on a throwback screen.

Has Sanchez lost confidence in the struggling rookie, who had an open-field drop in the first quarter?

Hill leads the team with four dropped passes, according to ESPN Stats and Information -- an alarming total considering he has been targeted only 37 times. His biggest drop occurred last month against the Patriots, whom the Jets face Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. Since then, the second-round pick has caught only two passes in three games -- yet he continues to get significant playing time.

Rex Ryan said Monday he hasn't lost faith in Hill, claiming the third-down play against the Rams was designed to go to Reuland. Asked about Hill's recent play, Ryan praised his blocking. That's fine, but the Jets didn't trade up in the second round for a blocking wide receiver.

"One thing I know for sure is, we're going to keep throwing to him and I think this young man is going to realize, by the way, that he can play the game," Ryan said. "He can get separation from people. The fun part, and the easy part of the job, is to catch the football."

Ryan said he wasn't surprised by Hill's bad game in St. Louis -- he also had a pass-interference penalty -- because he missed two days of practice time last week because of an illness. Practice time is vital for rookies, especially a raw player like Hill. But this was more than a one-game hiccup.

Hill has only 14 receptions for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Another way to look at it: Sanchez has connected with him on only 14 of 37 targets -- a 38-percent completion rate. Not good.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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