Some unfortunate injury news for the New York Jets, as Geno Smith will be without two of his favorite targets again on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Top receiver Santonio Holmes will miss his fifth consecutive game with a hamstring injury, while tight end Jeff Cumberland is sidelined with a concussion that he sustained last week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Jets were going to have a very difficult time keeping up with the Saints’ prolific offense anyway, and this news makes their task that much more challenging. The Saints are 5th in the NFL in scoring offense at 28.0 PPG, while the Jets rank 27th at just 17.9 PPG. Holmes was Smith’s favorite receiver when he was healthy early in the season, while Cumberland has emerged as a solid target over the last five weeks.
The Saints have made a huge defensive turnaround under Rob Ryan this season, and they rank 10th in both sacks and pass yards allowed per game. Neither of these things bode well for the Jets, who rank 22nd in pass yards per game and 30th in sacks allowed. The offensive line has been very average, and Pro Bowl left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson has declined noticeably. Smith also holds on to the ball far too long, and he is responsible for a large number of the Jets’ sacks.
Unfortunately, that is a trend that is likely to continue without Holmes and Cumberland. However, Jeremy Kerley has been solid all season, and Smith is rapidly gaining trust in the recently signed David Nelson. Both of those players must continue to perform, and they will be the key to converting third downs for the Jets.
There is a also huge amount of pressure on Stephen Hill in this game, as he has not lived up to his lofty draft status in either of his first two seasons. Hill has dealt with a few injuries this season, and he has been completely ineffective except for one big game in Week 3. He is the Jets’ best big play receiver, and this offense has been lacking a vertical threat.
The Jets talked about Hill as a potential No. 1 receiver throughout the offseason, and it is time that he step up and play like one. He has been invisible far too often, and the Jets simply cannot afford another disappearing act from Hill this week. Injuries are causing huge problems for this passing game, and it is time for the players that are left to make a difference.