Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. What about fooling someone five times in a game? Shame on… everyone?
On Sunday at Sco-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles, Denver Broncos rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy hit rock bottom in what has been an up-and-down 2020 season, recording five — count them, five! — drops in a 19-16 loss to the Chargers.
On the season, Jeudy’s catch rate hovers at a well-below-average 45.1%. Sunday’s abysmal performance did him no favors.
Arguably the best receiver in the class coming out of Alabama, Jeudy has shown flashes of brilliance in Orange and Blue, but Sunday’s stinker raised major red flags around an issue the rookie has struggled with all season: catching the football consistently.
Prior to Sunday’s disaster, Jeudy had recorded seven drops, including at least one drop in two straight games. Prior to this ongoing stretch of three games with at least one drop, he went three games without one.
What’s going on? Sunday appeared to be a case of the yips for the rookie, who is ranked 96th out of 116 qualified receivers by PFF’s metrics. He’s working himself open often, doing the hard work against top corners. He’s just not doing what he’s done all his life: catching the football with ease.
On Sunday, his hands failed him. He wasn’t having issues looking the football in. They were just clanging off of his hands.
This is the first drop of the game for Jeudy. This is a good ball from Drew Lock, leading Jeudy to the sideline. This should be an easy catch, but it bounces right off of Jeudy’s hands for a disappointing drop.
Jeudy certainly looks the ball in, but he needs to catch this with his thumbs together out in front of him, rather than trying to corral the ball with his pinkies together. He needs to use those 9.5-inch hands to spread out and snatch the football out of the air.
This throw by Lock was just a bit off on the skinny post, but this is another throw Jeudy must pull down.
This is a catch I watched Jeudy make over and over again at Alabama, but in the NFL, he’s started to drop his eyes just a tad bit early when going over the middle to try and avoid some contact from hovering safeties.
On tape, that’s what appears to happen with Jeudy on his second drop of the game. He had a similar drop on a slant in Week 2 at Pittsburgh, so he needs to work on this in the off-season.
Jeudy’s third drop is a bit more excusable, considering it was a low throw from Lock and thrown a bit outside of where the receiver was. That said, Jeudy looks nonchalant coming out of his stance and is slow out of his break.
That’s unacceptable at this level. Lock was going his way the entire time and Jeudy looked uninterested in the route or the concept, leading to him having to react quickly to even throw his hands at the football.
I’m sure his lack of want-to on this rep will be pointed out in the next film session as a team.
This was Jeudy’s most egregious drop of the day, considering it came in the end zone and could have been the difference in a three-point loss on the road.
This is an absolute dime of a ball from Lock, who is hit as he’s releasing the football. You can’t throw them much better than Lock did on this one, but Jeudy comes up small.
Again, he goes for a pinkies-together catch, which is usually frowned upon by receivers coaches, and he flashes his hands late — two big no-nos in a situation like that. He needs to twist his body around and high-point the football.
Obviously, that’s not what happened here and it goes down as a massive drop on a play in which there wasn’t a defender within three yards of him.
“Sometimes, drops happen,” Jeudy said Sunday following the 19-16 loss to the rival Chargers. “I’m watching the ball come in. I just dropped it. And I’ve just got to focus on the next play. It just happened too many times (Sunday). That’s unacceptable.”
Jeudy could have done well to come up with a catch on his very next target with the Broncos trailing 19-16 and facing a 2nd-&-10. Instead, it went down as drop No. 5, capping off a disaster of a day for the rookie.
Lock did a terrific job firing this ball low to protect Jeudy between three defenders, giving him a chance to make a sliding catch to move the chains.
But Jeudy doesn’t do a good enough job of closing his arms in tight to his body, allowing the ball to slip through the space underneath his right armpit for the drop.
“I can’t dwell on this, really,” Jeudy said. “Just focus on the little details that I need to focus on to get better and work on my craft.”
“[The ball] most definitely came to me,” Jeudy added. “Like I said, I’ve got to make the play. Ain’t nobody (stopping) me. I’m open. I’ve just got to finish. I beat myself today.”
Not only did the rookie beat himself Sunday, he beat the Broncos, helping deliver their 10th defeat in 2020.
While the drops are a major problem, there’s no way anyone in their right mind can give up on the talented receiver. Sure, he trails fellow rookie receivers in Henry Ruggs III (57.5%), CeeDee Lamb (66.7%), and Justin Jefferson (69.9%) in catch rate, but Jeudy was the better receiver coming out.
He has to work on his craft — both mentally and physically — shake off a tough rookie year and rebound. The talent is there, without a doubt. It would go a long way if he can bounce back on Sunday in Week 17 against the Raiders.
“It’s all about how you respond, how you get back up,” Lock said. “And I know Jerry has been so good to this point that this might be one of the first times he’s struggled.”
Let’s see how mentally tough you are, kid. Personally, I’m betting on him showing that mental strength Sunday.
Justin Jefferson’s catch rate going into Week 16: 69.9%.
CeeDee Lamb’s catch rate: 66.7%.
Henry Ruggs III’s catch rate: 57.5%