The Jets have done plenty of losing in the past two years, going 5-25 against their NFL opponents. But it was another foe that kicked their butts this week — COVID-19.
The Jets will enter Sunday’s game against the Jaguars at MetLife Stadium with 17 players, including eight starters, on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They also could be without head coach Robert Saleh, who tested positive on Wednesday. Saleh could coach the game if he clears protocols Sunday morning. If Saleh remains out, tight ends coach Ron Middleton will serve as interim coach.
“Everyone has to go through adversity,” Saleh said. “I think, just watching practice, talking to the guys, going through staff meetings and just jumping in and out of all the different individual meetings, guys are in a great place. They’re practicing hard, fully expect them to go out and give it everything they’ve got, because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re judged on, is to be able to go out on the football field, put out our absolute best effort and whatever the result is, it is. Really excited. Again, adversity is what shapes everything. Obviously, this whole season has been filled with adversity, and why not finish it with a little bit more.”
The COVID factor means even less talent will be on the field for this game between two of the worst teams in football. The Jaguars (2-12) are dealing with some COVID issues of their own, but nothing as bad as the Jets (3-11). This game has very little meaning in December, but could impact April’s draft.
At the moment, the Jaguars are in line to have the No. 1-overall pick for the second straight year. If they win this one, that will change. The Jets are currently slated to pick No. 4. They have an outside chance of moving up to No. 1, but they would need a lot of things to happen, starting with a loss to the Jaguars.
This should be a very intimate gathering at MetLife on the day after Christmas. The game has very little appeal. The No. 1 and No. 2 picks from the 2021 draft are facing off, with Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence facing Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, but even that feels lackluster with both quarterbacks and teams struggling.
The Jaguars enter this game on a six-game losing streak. Something has to give between the Jaguars’ offense and the Jets’ defense. The Jaguars are 31st in total offense (302.6 yards per game) and 32nd in scoring (14 points per game). The Jets are 32nd in total defense (391.8 yards per game) and 32nd in scoring (30.6 points per game).
Don’t expect Canton to be calling for any keepsakes from this one.