The Jets have two inflatable Santa Clauses in their locker room. On Wednesday, one was completely deflated and the other was knocked over.
They fit right in with a Jets team decimated by injuries. The latest unit to feel the pain is the secondary. The Jets look like they will be without safety Jamal Adams, nickel cornerback Brian Poole and starting corner Arthur Maulet. That leaves the Jets vulnerable to Ryan Fitzpatrick and a Dolphins offense that threw for 351 yards in their win over the Eagles last week.
The pressure will be on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to figure out a way to make a patchwork secondary successful.
“He’ll have to get creative this week, which I’m sure he doesn’t mind,” coach Adam Gase said.
The biggest loss is Adams, who has a sprained left ankle and could miss multiple games. Adams was having a Pro Bowl-caliber year before suffering the injury while making a tackle in the first quarter against the Bengals.
Adams had a walking boot on his left foot Sunday night after the game, but he is no longer wearing that. Adams described himself as “day-to-day,” but all signs point to him missing this game. Adams admitted he is not sure if he will play again this season.
“I’m not going to get out there until I’m myself,” Adams said. “I don’t know when that is. We’re not going to put a timetable on it but we’re just going to continue to do whatever they ask me to do and go from there.”
The Jets are already missing backup safety Rontez Miles, who is on injured reserve. That means the Jets will have to get creative to replace Adams. One possibility is moving cornerback Darryl Roberts to Adams’ spot. Roberts started five games at safety late last year when Marcus Maye was injured. Blake Countess, Bennett Jackson and Matthias Farley are other options at safety.
The loss of Maulet is two-fold. He has been starting on the outside, but he was also their backup in the slot for Poole. If Maulet is out, Maurice Canady, who missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness, is the likely starter outside with Nate Hairston inside.
“We’re going to probably be working through that the entire week. We’ve got an initial plan,” Gase said. “We’ve just got to kind of work through it in practice. You have to have the contingency plans of what if somebody goes out, how are we shuffling things around. We’ve got a lot of guys that are going to be responsible for playing a few different positions.”
Blessuan Austin is one healthy starting defensive back along with Maye. Austin, a rookie from Rutgers, was asked if there is added pressure on the remaining healthy DBs.
“Pressure? We’re professional athletes, man. It’s our job to be out there and know what to do and be at the right spots at the right time,” Austin said. “It’s no pressure at all. It’s our profession to be ready to play ball out there.”
If the Jets try to play a zone against the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick could carve them up. He threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Philadelphia. Wide receiver DeVante Parker had seven catches for 159 yards and two scores.
Fitzpatrick threw three touchdowns in the first meeting with the Jets on Nov. 3. This could be a long day for the Jets defense.
“They’re throwing the ball, which I’m sure [Fitzpatrick] loves,” Gase said. “He had a good game last week. The last time we played him, we struggled to get him to turn the ball over and create enough pressure to make him uncomfortable. That’s the number one thing when you’re playing Fitzy is you’ve got to try to get to him,you’ve got to try to get him to make some mistakes and put pressure on him and make some of those throws tough.”
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