The New York Jets have had their fair share of injuries in 2021 and most have been suffered by integral veterans on the defensive side.
The trend began with Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry, two free-agent acquisitions brought in to help solve the pass-rush problem. Ronald Blair ended up turning that into a trio before the bigger injuries came at linebacker and safety.
Jarrad Davis, Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Maye all went down one by one, along with lesser names like Blake Cashman, Jamien Sherwood (briefly), Sharrod Neasman (briefly), Adrian Colbert and Hamsah Nasirildeen. Second-year prospect Ashtyn Davis also began the season on the injured reserve, but he found his way back to the field in Week 4.
With an early-season Week 6 bye upon the franchise, the Jets will attempt to get healthy and it appears that things could finally be looking up.
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Robert Saleh Provides Positive Injury Update
During his October 11 press conference, head coach Robert Saleh told reporters he was “hopeful” that his team might get back safety Marcus Maye and linebacker Jarrad Davis for Week 7 in New England.
“As far as Marcus Maye and Jarrad Davis, we’re hopeful to get them back for New England but obviously we got to go through this bye weekend next week to see where they’re at, so I’m not guaranteeing but we’ll have a good idea where they’re at starting next week.”
Saleh has learned to leave things open-ended in New York, but the message hinted that one or both of the key veterans would be back on October 24. This could provide a huge boost for Gang Green, especially at safety.
When Maye was first sidelined with an ankle injury, things looked bad. First, his agent Erik Burkhardt tweeted publicly that his client “should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadline…,” implying that the playmaker wanted out of town.
A week later, news surfaced of an offseason hit-and-run charge while driving under the influence. Maye did not make the organization aware of this incident ahead of time, which brought up questions on whether or not we’d ever see him in green and white again.
As of yesterday afternoon, it appears we might.
The safety position has been a mess since losing Joyner and Maye. A merry band of misfits has filled in for the starting pair, including Neasman, Colbert, Jarrod Wilson, Sheldrick Redwine and the aforementioned Ashtyn Davis. Last weekend in London, three of those players were active and all three finished in the bottom eight for Jets defensive grades on Pro Football Focus with marks under 55.0.
Atlanta Falcons rookie first-rounder Kyle Pitts torched the Green & White and as we know, Maye tends to guard talented tight ends more often than not.
After the allegations and uncertainty, it’s now in the best interest of both parties for the safety to finish out the season as a Jet. Whether he remains one in 2022 is another story entirely.
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Jarrad Davis Return Could Bump Breakout Performer
The Jets have been incredibly thin at linebacker all season due to injuries. The original plan was to have Jarrad Davis in the middle with C.J. Mosley and either Nasirildeen or Cashman flanking him on three-linebacker sets.
After the MIKE-backer’s injury, however, Sherwood joined the starting lineup for Week 1. It became evident from the get-go that the two rookies might need some more time to get adjusted after transitioning from college safety to NFL linebacker. That opened the door for players like Del’Shawn Phillips (with Cashman sidelined), but it wasn’t long before waiver pickup Quincy Williams began to run away with the job.
The older brother of Quinnen Williams was a former Jacksonville Jaguars third-round pick in 2019. Playing alongside one another again, the siblings had a record-breaking performance in the win over the Tennessee Titans.
In general, Williams has become a diamond in the rough for Joe Douglas. Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press tweeted that if he had “asked whose stats [these] would be through five weeks — 31 tackles (second on team), five tackles for loss, one sack, two QB hits, three [fumbles forced] — how many of you would’ve said: Quincy Williams?”
Probably zero! And that’s the beauty of the early-season breakout. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was thrilled to get the hard-hitter off waivers, which begs the question, is Jarrad Davis still deserving of a starting role upon his return?
This system uses two linebackers for a majority of the snaps, despite being labeled as a 4-3 base. Nickelback Michael Carter II takes over for the third linebacker role anytime there are three wide receivers on the field for the opposition (or whenever Ulbrich considers it to be a passing situation). This happens a lot in the modern-day NFL.
That means there’s only one major role available behind Mosley, with the third part-time position falling to whoever loses the battle. That job is currently held by Sherwood, but the rookie will probably revert to special teams for the time being. Gang Green also just got back Cashman, which means a weakness has now become a strength.
“We’ll see where Jarrad is,” Saleh told the media, “he obviously hasn’t played in over a month and a half so we’ll see where he’s at, but Jarrad Davis is a phenomenal football player and when he’s healthy, he is a starter in this league. He’s a first-round pick, he showed very well in OTAs and training camp… not to push him into the starting lineup but when he’s ready to go, when he’s full speed, he’s going to get full-game reps.”