Losing players to injury is never a good thing, but it is even worse when you are on a short week. With a matchup Thursday night against the New England Patriots on the road, the Jets will already be short handed from a practice and preparation stand point. Now they will be without two starters for this week, and the remainder of the season as cornerback Dee Milliner was lost to a torn Achilles and left guard Brian Winters injured his knee.
Even with Milliner in the defensive backfield, the Jets’ pass defense was a mess. The second year cornerback has not lived up to expectations yet after the Jets selected him ninth overall in 2013, but he is by far the best defensive back the Jets have and losing him will hurt.
Without Milliner the Jets will be forced to go with Darrin Walls and Phillip Adams, both career backups, against Tom Brady and a Patriots offense that is clicking currently. They also have Antonio Allen, a natural safety who started the season for them at cornerback, who will most likely be featured in some dime packages now alongside fellow draft bust Kyle Wilson.
The Jets are allowing opposing offenses to complete 64.7 percent of their passes for 1,410 yards and NFL high 15 touchdowns. Those are numbers that do not look like they will improve anytime soon.
The Jets did sign a cornerback Monday, Josh Thomas formally of the Seattle Seahawks, but it will be hard to get him up to speed in such a short period of time. He has experience, appearing in 41 games, but has played in only three games and for six snaps this season with the Seahawks’ loaded defense.
Replacing a person on the offensive line may be the most difficult position to fill, as the unit is bigger than the individual. The Jets already have one of the most underwhelming offenses in the NFL, and losing a member along the offensive line will not help.
Replacing Winters will be fellow second year player Oday Aboushi. Aboushi does not have anywhere near the experience that Winters does though as he was inactive for every game last season, and has only seen 33 snaps in 2014; 24 of which came against the Denver Broncos once Winters was injured.
Aboushi will not have much time to get ready for what is a strong defensive front the Patriots deploy led by Vince Wilfork. Behind Aboushi, if he struggles, will be Dalton Freeman, who will also backup the center position, and rookie Dakota Dozier, who will be active for the first time this season.
For a Jets team that is watching its season spiral downward already, losing two starters will not make it any smaller of a task to come out of.