Florham Park, N.J. – When Muhammad Wilkerson went down clutching at his ankle late in Thursday night’s game, Jets fans everywhere suddenly forgot how to breathe.
Forget about the ridiculousness of the Patriots fans booing Wilkerson’s injury like there was any advantage to faking an injury there, the entire season flashed in front of the eyes of Jets fans when Wilkerson dropped to the ground.
The Jets offense showed flashes against the Patriots, but the drops continue to be a problem that will hold this offense back, but the defense? The defense has looked fairly amazing so far.
Sure the secondary has had it’s issues, although things did seem to improve when Darrin Walls replaced rookie Dee Milliner at corner, but the front seven has been dominate and that’s through two games without Quinton Coples. If Wilkerson were to miss an extended period of time this defense becomes a lot less dominate and all of a sudden Geno Smith would have to make a dramatic leap forward for just for the Jets to remain competitive.
Fortunately for the Jets and their fans, the injury to Wilkerson was not serious and Coples, as well as Jeremy Kerley to help correct the drops on offense, is making progress to return as well.
When asked if he thinks Wilkerson is 100 percent healthy Rex Ryan said, “I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent back, but I hope he’s ready to roll.”
Wilkerson himself said he stepped on somebody’s foot and rolled his ankle, but he’s, “fine, just a little soreness.”
Wilkerson said he did “everything” at practice but wouldn’t fully commit to being ready to play on Sunday, saying, “Right now, I don’t know. I should be fine.”
“I don’t know about all of those guys, but we’ll see how it goes but certainly they’re getting closer. I can see they’re definitely getting closer.” Ryan said, “Again when you’re looking at Kerley’s situation, obviously he had the concussion, so there’s a bunch of different hoops that he has to go through, different doctors and that kind of stuff. With Quinton, he just had surgery like three weeks ago, but I know he’s been doing an unbelievable job in his rehab. That would be something if we could get him back, now I’m not sure how possible that is, but we’ll see.”
Coples wasn’t in the locker room or made available to comment, while his progress sounds encouraging it didn’t seem like Ryan anticipates Coples being able to return this week.
“He (Coples) wasn’t really with the team, he was with our trainers (and) our strength and conditioning guys.” Ryan said, “I think he did some individuals though, not with the group, but by himself.”
The front seven has been outstanding, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Antwan Barnes, Demario Davis and David Harris have had great starts to the season, but make no mistake about it Wilkerson is the engine driving this defense. Without Wilkerson the Jets would have trouble creating so much disruption on opposing offensive lines, whether on passes or runs, with a healthy Wilkerson, Harrsion and Richardson the disruptions are becoming constant freeing up the linebackers to make plays all over the field.
For the first time in years the Jets have been able to generate some sort of pass rush, without relying strictly on exotic schemes. Harrison, Richardson and Wilkerson penetrating the line from the inside and Barnes burning around the outside edge.
Add Coples to that equation and opposing offensive coordinators will be scratching their heads like they were staring at an advanced calculus problems.
For now Jets fans have to be happy with the knowledge that they dodged a potential bullet with the Wilkerson injury, the hope that Kerley can return and help solve the riddle of the drops and sit back and salivate at the thought of eventually adding Coples to this already dynamic front seven.
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