Generally, the Jets currently enjoy a strong (and increasingly loud) sense of optimism. Specifically, the team still has some players about whom there is concern.
Atop the list sits receiver Stephen Hill. The 43rd overall pick in 2012, taken two spots before Alshon Jeffrey (yes, Jets fans, Alshon Jeffrey), Hill faces a likely up-or-out training camp and preseason in 2014.
Some Jets fans already are casting a vote for out. Via Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com, a fan at training camp on Friday expressed a sentiment of that sort to Hill. And Hill responded.
“Take me out of the game?” Hill shouted to the fans behind him as he ran to the field. “You act like I didn’t hear that sh-t.”
Hill is tall and he’s fast and he went to Georgia Tech. And that’s where the similarities with Calvin Johnson end.
Through 23 games in two seasons, Hill has caught 45 passes for 594 yards and four touchdowns. The man who drafted Hill, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum, is long gone, and it was clear from the get-go that, like Friday’s heckler, coach Rex Ryan doesn’t belong to the Stephen Hill fan club.
“Well, nothing told me he would [contribute],” Ryan said in 2012. “Nothing. When I saw the tape [of his collegiate play] I was concerned. But Mike Tannenbaum and [senior personnel executive] Terry Bradway and all our scouts were adamant about this guy. They were adamant that this guy can do it. He can run all these routes, he had good hands and he’s got 4.2 speed at 6-foot-5. He was the guy they all wanted, but honestly, when it came down to it, a wideout? Not my dream pick. But now that we have him, of course, I want to claim him: ‘Oh, that was my pick.’ But it really wasn’t.”
Through two years, Hill has proven Ryan right. Which could mean that Ryan will finally get his wish.
But even if Hill has joined Tannenbaum as a former Jets employee before the season starts, Ryan will be reminded of the decision to take Hill over Jeffrey when the Bears come to MetLife Stadium for a Week Three Monday night game.