The New York Jets lost more than just the game when they played the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Stephen Hill left the game after the second play with a concussion, while Santonio Holmes pulled his hamstring in the fourth quarter. Their injuries leave Geno Smith without his top two targets for Monday’s clash with the Atlanta Falcons, and possibly longer.
The Jets’ win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 showed what a productive receiving tandem Holmes and Hill can be. Each had over 100 yards and touchdown in that game, and their big plays were the biggest reason the Jets won the game. Unfortunately, that element will now be missing from the offense.
Hill should only miss Monday’s game before returning, and his absence will be easier to replace than Holmes’. Clyde Gates will fill Hill’s role as the primary deep threat, and the Jets should still be able to take a few shots down the field. Hill has appeared to be starting to fulfill his potential this season, and this minor setback should not prove much of an issue beyond this week.
The loss of Holmes, however, could prove devastating. There are reports that Holmes could miss as much as a month with this injury, which is an even bigger problem considering the Jets’ October schedule is brutal. Holmes has looked like the player he was before last season’s Lisfranc injury, and he has quickly emerged as Smith’s favorite target, especially on third down.
In fact, all ten of Holmes’ receptions this season have resulted in either a first down or a touchdown, and that type of production is very difficult to replace. The Jets will rely heavily on slot receiver Jeremy Kerley to be their top threat in third down situations, as well as tight ends Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland.
Losing Holmes will be interesting for Smith’s development as a passer. Rookie quarterbacks like to have one receiver they completely trust, and Holmes was that guy for Smith. However, losing Holmes could force Smith to go through his reads and spread the ball around more. He will have to adapt, and how he handles third downs without Holmes will be particularly interesting to watch.
Overall, these losses are going to make it even more difficult for the Jets to put up points, which is something they struggle with enough as is. Hopefully Holmes and Hill can return quickly, and hopefully other receivers can step up. If not, the Jets’ passing game is going to really struggle to be productive.