ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Jerry Jeudy needs to hear the story about Jerry Rice.
By most accounts, including every meaningful statistic, Rice is the best receiver in NFL history. The G.O.A.T. Greatest of All Time. But did you know he reportedly had 10 drops his rookie season? The first-round pick dropped so many he heard boos from 49ers fans and criticized by the media. In his rookie year playoff game against the Giants, Rice was running in the clear when he flat out dropped the ball.
The next season, Rice led the NFL with 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Jeudy, the Broncos’ first-round rookie receiver, flashed his elite ability to plant, cut, separate and make three nice catch and runs in his NFL debut Monday night against Tennessee. So what will he remember about it years from now?
“The two drops,’’ he said.
The second drop, on a slant pattern in which he had cut into the clear near the Titans’ 40 yard line with 4 minutes to go, cost the Broncos a chance to put the game away. The Titans rallied with a sustained field goal drive in the final 3 minutes to win, 16-14. There is no such thing is a good drop. But that was a drop at a bad time.
“Drops happen,’’ Jeudy said in a Zoom media call Wednesday. “Those are the plays I make usually. When that happened I was too much focused on running than catching the ball. That’s the only thing that happened. I got my eyes off of the ball and it was a drop.”
See there. It wasn’t so much a rookie mistake as the oldest reason known to pass catchers – he looked to run before he looked it in.
“Those two dropped passes made it seem like I was nervous,’’ he said. “That wasn’t the case. It was just not concentrating on the ball, trying to make a play after the catch. It doesn’t really mess up my mind for real. It happens.”
Quarterback Drew Lock did have 4 passes caught by Jeudy for 56 yards, although 25 came on the final play of the first half when the Titans’ defense was giving up the underneath yards. Lock was asked if he addressed the drops to Jeudy.
“That’s not a Jerry Jeudy thing to happen,’’ Lock said in his weekly Zoom press conference. “He’ll say the same thing. Those were unacceptable to him. To me it’s not something we should take our time on more than we already have addressed it. He apologized, he was upset, he was hurt. But that’s like missing layups in basketball. Yeah I missed a couple but you don’t go addressing a guy about missing layups. It’s not a thing you do.’’