Like you, I’m on the Hayne-plane. Or is it train? I don’t know. I can’t keep up with all of you commenting on what the official word is. I mean, it took me 6 months to realize The General’s Bandwagon was a thing. In any case: I’m a big Jarryd Hayne fan. Hearing about his rugby background was intriguing (especially the part where he was like, the best) and I thought like Lawence Okoye, we’d have a good player after a couple years on the practice squad.
I think after that first preseason game, his chances of making the practice squad are nill. The moment we cut him, there’s 31 other teams foaming at the mouth at the talent and potential this dude has. There is no way that guy would clear waivers with 31 other teams, especially teams with rosters worse than our own (yes, they do exist).
So that brings up the question: just how good is this guy?
I hate to rain on the parade here, but he’s got a long way to go to be a mainstay on an NFL team warming a bench, let alone returning punts. At least as a dependable player. Just because you’ve had two preseason games with godly numbers doesn’t mean you can consistently do it when the starting lineups are gunning for you. We’ve seen this way too many times.
Does he have potential? Oh yeah! Do I see him doing something special? Absolutely. But we really are going to need to see him in a game day situation when it matters doing these things.
Week 3 of preseason aside, there are two things we need to consider with the insane numbers Hayne put up the first two weeks:
1: He is a shiny, brand new player to not just the league, but the game of football.
2: Teams are not spending a whole lot of time game planning in the preseason.
3: They aren’t game planning on how they can stop Hayne. For one thing they can’t (There aren’t even NCAA videos on this guy) and for another they just aren’t really dissecting him yet.
And look at Week 3; we had a significant dip in numbers for Hayne—and no one is even studying. This isn’t a knock on him, but he’s going to need to be more consistent (and actually be returning against the first string) before we can call him the second coming of Devin Hester.
Consistency isn’t the half of it. Once he returns a punt for 40 yards in the regular season, you can bet every team we face is going to start making a book of everything he does and game plan accordingly. You might think it is solely quarterbacks who crash hard, but every skill position player has notes written by the opposition. It’s the good players that know how to adjust each game so they don’t fall prey to being predictable.
Don’t believe me? Look at Doug Martin. That running back on Tampa Bay was a beast. "Special" everyone said. "The new heart of the Buccaneers offense" others said.
Then what happened? Aside from injuries, teams learned how to stop him. The same can be said for players like Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller and others. We saw those flashes about how great they were going to be, and then the league caught up and they were stuffed. I’m not saying this is what will happen to Hayne, in fact, I think he’s more like an Eddie Lacy type back that will learn to keep it going long after he’s introduced to the league, but it’s something we need to keep in our minds. It will be a long time before he takes the field in an Eddie Lacy type role as well.
And this here is the dilemma we’ll see when the regular season starts. We almost have to burn a roster spot for the guy, and some reports say we will if we use him or not. But it’s not just getting film on him we have to worry about, we have to teach him how to play football. All things considered, I feel having him even return a punt would be the ceiling he’d hit this season. In fact, I’d bet by the middle—final stretch of the season we see him taking returning duties from Reggie Bush. I’d be fine with this. I do think if he can get his running between the tackles down, we’d be in the running for the most deadly running back tandem in the league. Hyde and Hayne? Sounds scary to me. But that won’t happen this season. He won’t even be getting kickoffs this season. I think if we see him returning punts though on a consistent basis, that’d be huge progress and a realistic expectation.
What do you all think? Let’s be realistic here. What do you think is a reasonable expectation for Hayne should he make the roster (despite reports, he still could get cut for all we know)? Do you legitimately see him as a second running back? Or after his week 3 preseason performance, do you see him not surviving final cuts?