Promising Jets Rookie Expected to Start First Game After Veteran Injury

Tony Adams

Getty New York Jets safety Tony Adams against the Detroit Lions in 2022.

With the playoffs now out of reach in 2022, New York Jets fans wondered who would start in Week 18 versus the Miami Dolphins. Would it be status quo in terms of veterans, or would certain younger players get more snaps than usual at various positions?

Media members voiced that same question when speaking with head coach Robert Saleh on January 2 and while the answer was mostly more of the same, the Jets HC did highlight one rookie that should see an increased workload during the final game of the season.

“We’ll get T.A. [out there more] — I thought he did a lot of good things — [Tony] Adams,” Saleh responded. “He did a really good job stepping in for [Lamarcus] Joyner. Gonna get a really good look at him because I think he’s got a bright future for us.”

Is Lamarcus Joyner Done as a Jet?

Robert Saleh Press Conference (1/3) | 2023 | New York Jets | NFLHead coach Robert Saleh speaks with reporters on Tuesday of Dolphins week. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets NFL Action: #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action:

Earlier in the press conference, Saleh did confirm that Joyner will be out for the rest of 2022 with a hip injury — even if that’s only one more game. Considering the veteran admitted that he contemplated retirement after a lost season in 2021, you have to wonder if his days as a Jet and an NFL player could be over following this recent ailment.

Hip injuries are always a challenge and general manager Joe Douglas only brought Joyner back on a one-year deal. They could theoretically run it back with the 32-year-old for the third straight time, or the Jets could look to upgrade at safety in free agency or the draft.

That’s more likely, and Adams is a big part of that too. If the undrafted rookie can show the coaching staff some more consistency in Week 18, maybe he gets a real shot at the starting job next to Jordan Whitehead in 2023.

Adams has appeared in 10 games with a lot of time on special teams, but he’s only received 14 defensive snaps before Week 17 — where he registered 60 snaps against the Seattle Seahawks.

Over that short span, Pro Football Focus has graded the rookie as a tremendous run defender (88.7, four notable stops) and solid tackler (73.7, one missed tackle). He’s been worse in coverage with three of four targets allowed for a total of 31 yards.

Despite his experience, Joyner has been just as bad or worse in most of those areas this year, and fans will likely welcome this transition to a promising piece of the future.

Mike White Will Start at Quarterback

Aside from Adams, Saleh made it clear that most of the typical starters would be out there so long as they want to be — in the case of injured veterans like C.J. Mosley over a recent draft pick like Jamien Sherwood. “We’re trying to win this one,” Saleh concluded, and that might explain the decision to stick with Mike White over Zach Wilson.

With nothing on the line except for draft status and bragging rights, it makes much more sense to start Wilson over White. The Jets have been adamant that they will continue to develop the BYU product rather than give up on him in 2023. White is also an unrestricted free agent that may very well sign somewhere else.

So, why start a quarterback that could be gone in two months?

That answer is simple: job security. Saleh admitted that himself, even if he didn’t intend to. I’ll reiterate his words: “We’re trying to win this one.”

If the Jets get embarrassed for a third straight outing, ending a once-promising campaign with the worst possible taste in the mouths of both fans and ownership, it’s more likely that heads will roll. Whether that’s offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur or Saleh himself, they’ll take their chances with White and the veterans saving their bacon over Wilson and any other potential prospects of the future.

Golly! What a way to round out the year — sigh.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x