Austin Sefarian Who?
On Monday afternoon the New York Jets claimed Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tight End Austin-Sefarian Jenkins off of waivers, after he was cut on Friday following a DUI arrest. Sputtering at 1-2 on the season, the Jets are looking for all the offensive help they can get at this point after only putting up 3 points with 7 turnovers on offense Week 3, 24-3 loss to the Chiefs.
The Jets went into the season with a stable of Tight Ends who collectively had less than 10 career catches for the Jets. The waiver pick up is clearly an upgrade at the position. Through three games as a unit this season, the Jets Tight Ends have 2 combined tackles on Special Teams, more than the 0 catches they have collected. Amidst his potential talent, Sefarian-Jenkins brings a lot of baggage to a team after being arrested for suspicion of DUI on Friday September 23rd. This is on the heels of a previous arrest in college during March of 2013 for DUI after a late-night accident. Despite the 2013 incident, he was drafted 38th overall in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft.
Before discussing how this deal came about and his fit with this current Jets team lets go back and find who Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is and what the Jets might be getting.
Coming out of the University of Washington listed at 6’5” 262 pounds as Junior, Sefarian-Jenkins has the physical makeup to be the prototypical Tight End for the NFL. As a Freshmen he even spent time on the UW basketball team for 17 games. After a big sophomore year where he finished 69 Catches for 859 yards, he ended up getting arrested in March of 2013 after causing a late-night car accident where his blood alcohol level was 0.18. He later pleaded guilty no contest and received a suspended jail sentence. The following season, during Sefarian-Jenkins’ Junior year, he won the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s best Tight End, after finishing with 36 receptions, 450 yards, and 8 TD’s.
Despite his measurables, 6’5” 262 with a 4.56 40 time, his attitude and off-field makeup have been red flags for the young talented player who hasn’t quite reached his potential 3 years into the league (42 catches for 559 yards in two season). During offseason practices and training camp Sefarian-Jenkins continued to have verbal disagreements with the coaching staff and last Friday’s arrest was the last straw for Buccaneers.
Head Coach Todd Bowles and this team feel they have a system in place to turn around a man who’s immature off the field actions have prevented him from rediscovering that Mackey Award Winning potential on the field. The secret weapon in that pursuit is Pro-Bowl Receiver and team leader Brandon Marshall who has some experience dealing with mental issues of is own.
"I've been talking to Austin for a week now, even before this even happened," Marshall said, referring to the Jets acquisition, "When I saw what he was going through I reached out to him. We've been talking for a while. He is a great talent. When I heard yesterday we claimed him I was like, 'This is God sent.”
Marshall went on to say that he is connecting Sefarian-Jenkins with the right people to get him help. He wanted to reassure Sefarian-Jenkins that even though he made mistakes, that doesn’t make him a bad person. Marshall believes all he needs is someone to believe in him like he's had in the past. All this is an interesting point from a man who had off-field issues of his own prior to his diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder in 2011. After facing the reality of his mental illness, Marshall has since founded Project 375, a foundation that helps people face the stigma of mental health issues and find people the help they need.
No one is better suited to help Jenkins adjust to life in New York than Marshall, which may allow him to finally become a productive part of this Jets offense that has been so desperately missing at the Tight End position. It would be a welcomed sight as the Jets as an organization have missed out on a true weapon at Tight End since 2012 when Dustin Keller was healthy and still on the roster.
From Sefarian-Jenkins' perspective, he has to look at this opportunity as his last chance to catch on with an NFL team. He has the chance to play in an offense under Chan Gailey where his size and abilities might be just what the doctor ordered for this Jets team. Unfortunately, under the league’s personal conduct policy, Sefarian-Jenkins may be subject to a potential suspension after the video of his DUI arrest went viral (via TMZ.com). Despite the lingering issues, it may be one last hurdle to solving this team’s Tight End problems.