Saturday, November 9, 2013
Stephen Hill claims he's not frustrated
By Rich Cimini
Remember Stephen Hill? He used to be a wide receiver on the New York Jets.
Ever since his big game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, Hill has disappeared from the offfense. He has only 10 catches for 107 yards and zero touchdowns over the past six games. Granted, he missed almost an entire game with a concussion (Week 5), but the lack of productivity has spanned long enough to raise questions.
It's not like he can't get on the field. The healthiest receiver on the team, Hill has participated in a team-high 76 percent of the offensive snaps (466 out of 612), yet he hasn't received too many looks from Geno Smith -- only 24 targets in the past six games.
Hill insisted it's not frustrating.
"No, it's not," he said. "I go out there and do my job every play. I block when I need to block, and they get big runs off that. It showed [Sunday]."
Hill made a couple of nice downfield blocks on key running plays against the New Orleans Saints, but he wasn't drafted in the second round last year because of his blocking prowess. He's supposed to be a big-play receiver.
So what's going on? A couple of things.
Since Santonio Holmes' injury in Week 4, the Jets have dialed back the passing game, especially the vertical game. They've taken a conservative approach, featuring the ground attack and reducing the burden on Smith. At this stage of his career, Hill is a one-trick pony -- he stretches the field with deep routes. That element in the offense has been missing. As a result, so has Hill, who basically runs clearouts for Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson.
The good news for Hill is that the Jets return from their bye next week against the Bills. He has 197 receiving yards, approximately one-third of his career total, against the Bills, who make him look like Calvin Johnson.
"It could be a turning point," Hill said. "I play well against Buffalo, but I've only played Buffalo twice. I don't know what that means. Those were just mismatches at those times and we had good opportunities."