Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy’s goal for 2021: Better maximize opportunities – The Denver Post
As soon as he lined up wide right late in the Broncos’ Week 17 game against Las Vegas, receiver Jerry Jeudy could hear the Raiders’ defenders.
“They were actually calling my play out — ’Watch the dig route! Watch the dig route!’” he said with a laugh.
Moments later, the Raiders were watching Jeudy score a 92-yard touchdown.
“I just ran my route and Drew (Lock) threw a great pass for me to catch and run with,” he said. “At first, I was looking at the ball to make sure I caught it because I had five drops the game before (against the Chargers). I looked it in, saw the green field and just hit it.”
The stopwatch timed Jeudy covering the final 40 yards in 4.32 seconds and that includes him gliding the last few yards across the goal line. The touchdown was the highlight of a rookie season in which he was thrust into the top-receiver role after Courtland Sutton’s Week 2 ACL injury and caught 52 passes for 856 yards and three scores.
“Having that Chargers game helped me a lot in practice because I focused a lot more on catching the ball and during the offseason, I’m going to do everything to make sure I don’t have a game like that again,” Jeudy said in a recent phone interview with The Denver Post.
To that end, Jeudy returned to Florida after the season and “just got myself a couple days off and I’m ready to get back into it.”
Jeudy played all 16 games and had highlights (six catches-113 yards at the Jets, seven catches-125 yards at Atlanta and five catches-140 yards against Las Vegas) and dips in production (a combined four catches during three December games). He had at least four catches in eight games.
The route-running was on display from the first day of training camp. Same with the post-catch speed. But 10 drops is hard to ignore. And the Broncos generally prioritized getting Jeudy involved.
His 113 targets were 23rd in the NFL, but his catch percentage of 46.0 was 41st among the 42 players with at least 100 targets.
By comparison, Green Bay receiver Davante Adams was at 77.2% (115-of-149) and Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs was at 76.5% (127-of-166).
And that was Jeudy’s major takeaway from 2020.
“Taking advantage of my opportunities,” he said. “I had a lot of opportunities come my way that I didn’t take advantage of. I know that’s the biggest thing I need to do (in 2021).”
The Broncos hope the combination of being in the same offensive system and his rookie-year experience has the same kind of impact on Jeudy (and rookie KJ Hamler) as it did for Sutton in 2018, when he started as the No. 3 but was the No. 1 by December.
“There was a big difference,” receivers coach Zach Azzanni said. “Courtland got eased in until Demaryius (Thomas) was traded and Emmanuel (Sanders) got hurt so he got the benefit of not playing 70 plays per game and watching Demaryius and Emmanuel and not being in the deep end of the pool and could more touch his toes at the bottom.
“These young men last year, I drove them to the deep end and kicked them into the pool. They had to start swimming right away, whether they had learned all of the things to swim or not. The experience they got last year was unparalleled for sure and they’re going to build off that.”
Azzanni said the strides made by Jeudy and Hamler were “more mental,” than physical.
“The biggest thing is an understanding of a season, of what a game is like when you jog onto the field and the other side has arguably the same talent as you,” Azzanni said.
When the Broncos’ final practice ended Jan. 2, Azzanni pulled the receivers together on the field for one last message.
“I said, ‘All right, I want everybody to take a mental note of how your body feels right now and how your mind feels because you have two days left — could you play four more games? Could you do it physically? Would you make it through at a high level and not just survive to get to a Super Bowl?’” Azzanni said. “You should have seen Jerry’s face. They’ve learned now more of what to expect from the mental side and how to take care of themselves.”
That insight set the table for Jeudy’s offseason. Preparing to play 16 games isn’t enough.
“I wanted to go into the offseason thinking and training like that – could I play four more games?” he said. “When I’m training, I’m thinking about 18, 19, 20 games instead of just 16 games.”
Jeudy amongst rookies
The Broncos drafted Jerry Jeudy No. 10 in last year’s draft. How he stacked up against the NFL’s other rookie receivers:
|1. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota||88|
|2. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas||74|
|3. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati||67|
|4. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh||62|
|5. Darnell Mooney, Chicago||61|
|8. Jerry Jeudy, Broncos||52|
|T2. Gabriel Davis, Buffalo||7|
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