The New York Jets caught a bit of a break when the final injury report was revealed for Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Stud left tackle Christian Darrisaw was ruled out by the Vikes on Friday, December 2, and this should be a key loss for Minnesota. It’ll be the second straight game Darrisaw misses after suffering a concussion in Week 11.
This absence could provide the Jets’ pass rushers with an advantage on Sunday and the reasoning goes beyond the left tackle position.
Jets Aided by Christian Darrisaw Injury vs Vikings
Needless to say, the blindside blocker is always important in the NFL but Darrisaw’s impact cannot be understated.
According to Pro Football Focus, Darrisaw has the top pass-blocking efficiency rate on the Vikings at 98.1%. That equates to just 12 quarterback pressures on Kirk Cousins in 10 starts this season. Right tackle Brian O’Neill is next behind Darrisaw, with 18 pressures allowed and an efficiency rate of 97.7%.
It’s not just in pass protection where the former first-round selection will be missed. Darrisaw has also earned an 87.2 grade as a run-blocker. In terms of overall PFF rankings, only one offensive tackle has higher marks than the Vikings LT on the season — the unmistakable Trent Williams, who has been the man to beat at the position for a very long time.
If edge rushers like Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers can tee-off on Cousins, it should help slow down this Minnesota offense that flaunts Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and T.J. Hockenson among others.
After all, the Jets should get a pretty strong boost from the return of Sheldon Rankins on the interior alongside Quinnen Williams. Jets X-Factor film analyst Michael Nania tweeted that “Quinnen Williams will have a chance to feast on Sunday.” Continuing: “The Vikings’ IOL [interior offensive line] has allowed 100 pressures, the most of any IOL in the league. Jets need [Williams] to create massive havoc up the middle of the pocket to eliminate room for [Cousins] to step up [and] throw deep.”
Nania’s right — and the Darrisaw absence should only help this Jets D-line hassle Cousins. The Vikings quarterback is not historically great under pressure and if the Dallas Cowboys proved anything when they held Minnesota to three points a few weeks ago, it’s that a strong pass rush can stifle this offense.
Backup Blake Brandel will be important in this one. The LT fill-in held his own against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving with just two pressures allowed. Unfortunately, one of those blemishes yielded a sack.
Jets-Vikings Final Injury Report
ESPN’s Rich Cimini shared the Jets injury news on Friday afternoon, stating: “No practice for [RB Michael] Carter. Look for a lot of [Ty] Johnson and [Zonovan] Knight. Expect [George] Fant or [Max] Mitchell at RT, replacing [Cedric] Ogbuehi.
Carter is in fact “doubtful” with an ankle injury that head coach Robert Saleh stressed was more of a low-grade sprain. Ogbuehi is also “doubtful” with a groin injury and illness. Left tackle Duane Brown’s “questionable” tag is usually not much of a concern, as he continues to fight through his early-season shoulder issue.
Backup safety and core special teamer Ashtyn Davis is the only NYJ player that has been ruled out officially, although tight end Kenny Yeboah’s return should help fill the ST void left by Davis.
The most interesting situation is the one at right tackle. Saleh told reporters that Fant could be activated in time for this week’s matchup, but would the veteran immediately supersede Mitchell if he returns? “[It’s] one of those day-to-day things,” Saleh replied when asked who would start between the two.
The case could be made that the Jets should stick with the rookie. Mitchell has been a pleasant surprise this year and Fant is an impending free agent that’s expected to walk in 2023. Why not continue to develop the future at the position? — especially when you consider that the drop-off in talent from Mitchell to Fant is slim to none.
The veteran may not appreciate a decision like that from Saleh, but who cares? This is about doing what’s best for the Jets both short and long-term.
Minnesota’s only two remaining injury designations were tight end Ben Ellefson (out, groin) and defensive lineman Ross Blacklock (questionable, illness).