While the New York Jets were able to win big in Week 14, both on the field and in the standings, they also suffered a significant loss.
With 11:06 remaining in the second quarter, safety Jim Leonhard intercepted a pass thrown by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko.
As Leonhard intercepted the ball, Chiefs receiver Steve Breaston reached out and grabbed anything he could in an attempt to tackle him and prevent a long return.
Unfortunately for Leonhard, he got his leg caught in an awkward position and he suffered a knee injury that required him to be carted off the field.
The Jets will have an MRI done on his right leg on Monday morning, but all indictions are that the 29-year-old Leonhard has suffered a season-ending knee injury, and that’s a devastating blow for him and the Jets.
Leonhard, who is considered the “quarterback” of the Jets defense, suffered a season-ending leg injury last season as well, at virtually the same juncture of the season.
The Jets found a way to overcome his loss last year, and they’re going to have to dig deep and find that formula again. Last year it was heavy doses of Eric Smith and Brodney Pool. Might be more of the same now.
The worst part of it for Leonhard is that he is in the final year of his contract, and although he’s been injured on two completely fluky, freak plays two straight Decembers, he’s not getting any younger.
In the meantime, the Jets will have to patch their secondary up, and fast. They still have a lot of football left against some good quarterbacks and they can’t afford a letdown now.
The Jets will miss Leonhard considerably on the field, as he’s both a starting safety and the primary punt returner.
But there are no excuses in this league. Every team has injuries. The Jets will have to fight through it like they did last year.
They’re going to be awfully thin in the secondary, however. They may have to bring in a new safety up onto the active roster in time for next week’s game.
But it’s nothing they haven’t done before. They can handle it. They have no choice. Next man up. Play like a Jet.