Bumpus: Why Seahawks’ JSN is ‘so close’ to having breakout game

Oct 19, 2023, 2:50 PM

Seattle Seahawks Jaxon Smith-Njigba...

Jaxon Smith-Njigba of the Seattle Seahawks runs against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 15, 2023. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

While one Seattle Seahawks first-round pick has taken off and filled up the stat sheet, the other is waiting for that breakout moment.

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Cornerback Devon Witherspoon, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has been stellar since debuting in Week 2, locking down opposing receivers, making big hits and creating splash plays such as two sacks and a pick-6 in a Week 4 win in New York.

It’s been a slower start for receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, however.

The No. 20 overall pick has played in every game so far, but hasn’t quite burst onto the scene like many expected after a stellar training camp. The Ohio State product has caught 16 of 25 targets, but he has just 110 receiving yards (6.9 per catch) and has yet to find the end zone.

Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus thinks that Smith-Njigba is on the cusp of popping off, and he thinks it may happen this weekend when the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals.

“This is why JSN is going to have a breakout game,” Bumpus said during Thursday’s Bump and Stacy on Seattle Sports. “I’m watching him run his routes, I’m watching him settle in space, and it’s all making sense (for him). He is seeing the game beautifully right now.”

Smith-Njigba had arguably his best game as a pro during Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, catching four of five targets for a career-high 48 yards. There was plenty to like from that game, Bumpus said.

“There was a play late in the fourth quarter where he’s in the slot to the right of Geno (Smith), he has a seam route, I think the Bengals are in a quarters look and he’s got that nickel (corner) or the outside linebacker over him and he moves (the defender) to the right side. He understands what he’s looking at and boom, he snaps it off and stays skinny, stays away from the safety. Beautiful,” Bumpus said. “If (Smith) had time, that’s a touchdown right there. He’s wide open.”

Bumpus also liked one of JSN’s longer receptions, which went for 18 yards and a first down.

“He had a catch … where he’s in a slot to the right side, he wraps around the backside of the outside linebacker, settles in space, catches the ball and gets upfield,” Bumpus said. “They’re the little things that receivers do that let you understand he knows what he’s seeing, he feels the space and he’s starting to get it.”

Bumpus knows there are Seahawks fans and analysts upset at the rookie’s lack of production so far, but he thinks that will soon change.

“It ain’t him. Because I’m looking at the way this young man is attacking defenses, and he understands what he’s seeing,” he said. “… This is going to be the game. JSN is so close to having one of those big games. And once you get a taste of that, man, it’s a beautiful feeling and he’s gonna run from there.”

Listen to the full second hour of Thursday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Seahawks’ DK Metcalf won’t change style after another penalty
• Video: Seahawks Football 101 – Dre’mont Jones gets huge sack as D shines
• Cowherd: Seahawks’ Pete Carroll keeps doing what Belichick can’t
• How did Seahawks’ Jamal Adams play in first full game back?

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