Everything is at stake, as far as Gates coach Robert Saleh is concerned.
“We will win and lose matches the way our D line plays,” Saleh said Friday.
The feeling may not have been 100 percent right, as the defensive line was a strength for a team with one win in six attempts. But the Jets’ only chance last week to sustain their 54-13 loss to the competitive Patriots could be made disappear on the line of scrimmage.
The defensive line, which had 13 sacks in the first four weeks, disappeared to New England. Quarterback Mac Jones was barely underrated and under pressure only 10.3 percent of the time he fell, according to Pro Football reviewers, his lowest this season. While Zach Wilson knocked him out of the game, Gates fired Jones once—the only time they’ve hit him behind the line.
“There’s one bump that doesn’t define what that group is,” Saleh said before the Jets and defensive line attempted to bounce back on Sunday against the Bengals at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets didn’t actually see results from their defensive line in two games in a row, but they did take on crucial Matt Ryan in Week Five, when the Jets raced to the Falcons quarterback eight times and pressed him in 33.3 percent of the dropouts, but weren’t sent off. for him.
There was little optimism about the embarrassing defeat by the Patriots. John Franklin Myers, who got a contract extension that includes $30 million in total guarantees, earned three sacks in four games. But against New England, he and teammates Sheldon Rankins, Quinnen Williams, Bryce Huff, Foley Fatukassi and Chuck Lawson were unable to generate any pressure. As a result, Jones took his time grabbing the secondary for 307 yards in the air.
And because the Jets were playing without linebackers CJ Mosley and Jarrad Davis (both expected to return on Sunday), that group couldn’t keep up the slack. The Patriots hit the jets 148 yards to the ground, too.
Since the Jets’ seven-sack blast against the Titans on October 3, their top groups have been silenced.
“Now the teams will plan on you,” said Williams, who had more sacks against Tennessee. [two] From the total jets in the last two matches [one]. “Teams will do the things they can do to get players and even units or groups out of the game. … you have to find a way.”
Saleh said the Jets would get a boost at full-back because Davis is set to start his and his team’s season on Sunday. Davis missed the first six games due to an ankle injury he sustained during pre-season. The fifth-year full-back hasn’t played in two months and only joined training this week.
“He hasn’t played in a while, so we were able to spell it out,” Saleh said before training at Florham Park. “Quincy [Williams] Will be back from the concussion protocol, we feel good about it. So we’ll be able to get him at least some reps in there and give JD a break.”
The Jets are expected to get Mosley back, too, despite losing Jamien Sherwood and Blake Cashman last week. The linebacker is weak, and a quick turnaround will further complicate the situation, with Thursday night’s game in Indianapolis next.
“There are a lot of gymnastics going on behind the scenes,” Saleh said of preparing the players not only for Sunday, but Thursday as well.
Gates ruled out running Tevin Coleman (hamstring), the defense line Bryce Huff (back), and a tight end, Tryvon Wesco (knee).
Safety Ashton Davis (shoulder), Tyler Croft (back) and DL Shack Lawson (wrist) were full participants in practice, although they were all questionable on Sunday.
The Jets have until Saturday to decide whether Zach Wilson will move to the injured reserve, which would put the quarterback off for at least three weeks. Saleh said they will use all the time they have until this decision is made.
“He’s getting better,” Saleh said of Wilson, and his rheumatoid arthritis sprain is expected to sideline him between two and four weeks. “He is walking around the building. He is in great spirits.”