While some fans, players, coaches and pundits will cite the loss of a starting player as a reason for declining performance, anyone who has been watching the Jets this season can see that a few of the players they’ve lost to injury has led to upgraded replacements at several spots on both offense and defense.
Starting with their win today against the Redskins, the Jets had to go with Jonotthan Harrison at center and Tom Compton at right guard after placing Ryan Kalil and Brian Winters on season ending injured reserve. With all due respect to the two injured players to whom we wish a speedy recovery, Harrison and Compton appeared to be very clear upgrades over Kalil and Winters on the offensive line.
In fact, after rookie right tackle Chuma Edoga gave up two early sacks to Ryan Kerrigan, Sam Darnold wasn’t brought down by the Redskins defense for the rest of the day with Harrison and Compton manning the interior where defensive tackle Matthew Iannoidis has been harassing opposing quarterbacks. Harrison and Compton won’t be going to Canton anytime soon, but one has to wonder why they weren’t on the field sooner given Kalil’s struggles and the injuries Winters was playing through.
On the defensive side of the ball, Trumaine Johnson is also on IR and Darryl Roberts has been sidelined with a calf injury. In place of Johnson, rookie Bless Austin has looked every bit the player some scouts claimed he was after being drafted this past offseason. Having suffered a pair of ACL injuries, Austin fell to the sixth round where the Jets scooped him up, but plenty of onlookers said he had round two talent. It’s only two games, but the kid does look like a natural early on.
On the other side it was Arthur Maulet whose name hasn’t been called all that much, but that’s a good thing. Jets fans have grown so accustomed to analyzing the busted overages of Johnson and Roberts that a replacement who could help break the string of mediocrity is a welcome change.
The sample size is about as small as can be, but Harrison and Compton have done enough in the NFL to give reason to believe the upgraded play isn’t a fluke, and if even one of the Austin/Maulet duo were to pan out as a number two corner, it would be one less thing for Joe Douglas to add to his off-season shopping list.