Philadelphia, PA (CBS New York)- Coming off a bye week, the New York Jets enter Week 5 a win-less 0-3, on the season in what is looking like a potentially lost year due to injuries.
Quarterback Sam Darnold has been out since Week 2 due to mononucleosis. Linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams have both missed the last two games on defense. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa suffered another neck injury that could be career-ending. Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian broke his ankle in his first start in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns.
In light of those injuries, Jets fans can be forgiven for feeling that their team is snakebit. What looked to be a promising season with new coach Adam Gase and some upgrades to the roster, has instead turned into a quarter of a season of what ifs thus far. The offense, with third-string quarterback Luke Falk at the helm, has struggled to make any noise against both the Browns and Patriots. Now, heading into a Week 5 matchup with the Eagles, in which Darnold is questionable to play, some changes may be coming.
Coach Adam Gase said this week that the team would look at potentially making some changes along the offensive line, a unit which ranks at or near the bottom of the league in every category tracked by Football Outsiders. NFL On CBS analyst Rich Gannon agrees with Gase that changes make sense, based on how the unit has played, but he also points out that the line just hasn’t had a ton of experience together as a group.
“It goes back to the fact that they had some new additions. Kelechi Osemele came over from the Raiders. Ryan Kalil retired and then came back. But, they didn’t play a lot of snaps together in the preseason and I think that has hurt them,” said Gannon. “You have a new back in Le’Veon Bell, who is clearly frustrated because there haven’t been a lot of holes to run through.”
Gannon, who will be on the call Sunday, when the Jets take on the Eagles in Philly, understands that the lack of stability at the quarterback spot due to injury is also a factor. Falk, a former sixth-round pick out of Washington State, has had his share of ups and downs so far. He threw for 198 yards against the Browns while completing 80 percent of his passes, but then completed just 54.5 percent of his attempts against the Patriots for 98 yards and an interception. The struggles are to be expected for a young quarterback who was not expecting to be thrust into a starting role. He hasn’t been helped by the fact that his lone reliable option to this point has been running back Le’Veon Bell.
“The one thing that is really missing is their ability to stretch the field vertically in the passing game. There is just nothing there when you look through the first three games. There are no big plays,” said Gannon. “Robbie Anderson they’re not getting the ball down the field to him. They went out and got Jamison Crowder, and he had 14 catches in Week 1 against the Bills but he has been quiet since then. The tight end position is virtually non-existent.”
“When you look at almost 50% of the offense comes from one player, in Le’Veon Bell, they have to be able to shift gears a little bit and help him out by getting more people involved in the plan,” Gannon continued.
The good news for the Jets is the Eagles have been nearly as banged up on the defensive side of the ball. Philadelphia’s secondary is going to be without three of its top four corners in Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox. The team has just three healthy corners at this point in Rasul Douglas, former practice squad player Craig James and recently re-signed Orlando Scandrick.
Combined with the injuries in the secondary, the pass rush has not been as fearsome as we have come to expect from Jim Schwartz. The Eagles have garnered just three sacks with two of those coming from defensive linemen. The pass rush did make a game changing play last week for Philly when Derek Barnett strip sacked Aaron Rodgers, but still, they have been far from fear-inducing. If there was a time for Gase and Falk to begin to gain some rhythm, this would seem to be the opportunity to do it.
Entering the matchup, the Jets are near two-touchdown underdogs, with the line set at 13.5. Kickoff from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is set for 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.