The New York Jets continued to improve their roster and built towards respectability in 2022, completing a 7-10 season. This was a three-game improvement over the 4-13 record in 2021, but a six-game losing streak to end 2022 dashed a promising start. Up until the losing streak, the Jets were firmly in the playoff discussion at 7-4 before a December collapse.
Injuries played a part in this collapse but were much less of a factor than in 2021. Most of the production lost was on the offensive side of the ball, most notably the offensive line. The preseason loss of Mekhi Becton followed by injuries to Duane Brown, Max Mitchell, George Fant, and Alijah Vera-Tucker led to a lot of inconsistency which in turn greatly affected offensive production.
With the expected return of Breece Hall and the addition of Aaron Rodgers and other offensive weapons, the Jets are expected to make a significant jump forward and shake up the AFC.
Notable 2022 Injuries- Returning Players
OT Mekhi Becton (Right Patellar Avulsion Fracture)
The former 11th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, Becton has played in just 15 games, losing the last two seasons to right knee injuries. In 2021, it was an MCL sprain, patellar dislocation, and cartilage damage. Regrettably, just two weeks into the 2022 training camp, Becton suffered yet another knee injury, this time an avulsion fracture to his kneecap, requiring a patellar realignment surgery.
Along with playing just one game over the past two seasons, Becton has also dealt with weight issues, at one point, ballooning up to 400 lbs. The final cherry on top is that the team continues to change him from left to right tackle, making everything backward. Becton has publicly come out and stated that he is a left tackle.
Fortunately, Becton has lost some weight, hovering around 350 lbs and hopefully can resume play at left tackle. Between the weight loss, position switch, and favorable outcomes for his most recent knee surgery (77 percent of players are able to return to play), Becton could have a bounce-back year.
Becton’s success or failure will come down to his health, but with the variables he is controlling for, he has the potential to live up to his first-round draft position in 2023.
OT Duane Brown (Left Shoulder RC Tear)
Following Mekhi Becton’s injury, Brown went down with his own left shoulder injury. He suffered a torn rotator cuff days after signing and missing the first four games of the season. Brown admirably played in every snap during the season until Week 17 against Seattle, playing only 86 percent of snaps. He missed the final game as the Jets were out of the playoffs, but it’s admirable that he played the entire season with essentially one arm.
Brown had surgery in the off-season as he prepares to return for his 17th NFL season. Outcomes for a return from rotator cuff repair are as high as 95 percent, but rehab can be tedious. Considering what he went through last season just to play, I don’t foresee him letting any injuries hold him back in 2023.
RB Breece Hall (Left ACL Tear)
Hall’s fantastic rookie season came to a sudden halt in Week 7 when he tore his left ACL and meniscus. The Jets were 4-2 and very much in the thick of the playoff race until Hall’s injury. The team did win in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos but would only win just two more games without Hall last season.
He will be roughly 10 months out from surgery by the time Week 1 kicks off. The average time for running backs to return to play is 13 months which would put Hall’s return sometime in November. However, he has been looking impressive during off-season workouts which suggests that he may be able to return sooner. To return at 10.5 months for Week 1 wouldn’t be unheard of as he has not had any reported setbacks.
Once Hall does return, temper your expectations. If he can avoid PUP and get the reps necessary to get ready in training camp, Hall could play in Week 1. But do not expect him to get the lion’s share of the workload. I would expect they ease him in, especially with the depth of the running back room.
Running backs across the board see fewer yards per rush, carries, and touchdowns in their first year back. If the Jets can control his workload early on, Hall could have a solid second half as he gets further and further out from the injury.
OT Max Mitchell (MCL Sprain/Factor V Leiden)
Mitchell had a rough season suffering an MCL sprain in Week 4 that kept him out for two months as he rehabbed. Regrettably, when he returned, he suffered blood clots in December as a result of a genetic trait called Factor V Leiden. This makes the person more susceptible to blood clots in the lungs and legs. Due to the presence of blood clots, he needed to go on blood thinners to ensure none of the clots dislodged and caused a stroke or pulmonary embolism.
Once an athlete goes on blood thinners, they need to be out for at least three months before returning to play. He was able to participate in OTAs and has been cleared to resume play. The team will have to keep a close eye on him but with proper management, he shouldn’t have any issues moving forward.
G Alijah Vera Tucker (Triceps tear)
AVT’s promising season ended in Week 7 due to a torn tricep, sending him to injured reserve. He required surgery to repair and fortunately, there are no long-term concerns returning from this procedure. He should be able to slot back into his guard position and help fortify the offensive line.
DE Jermaine Johnson (High-ankle sprain)
Johnson missed three games following a Week 5 ankle injury against the Miami Dolphins. The timeline highly suggests that he suffered a high-ankle sprain. At the time of injury, the team declined to specify whether it was a high or low ankle sprain.
These injuries typically cause more in-season production issues than year-to-year issues as we saw with Johnson. He should be fully healthy coming into the season regarding the ankle and build off his rookie season.
CB Brandin Echols (Quad)
Echols missed the final four games of the season due to a quadriceps injury sustained in Week 14. He missed three games before the team shut him down for the final game, sending him to IR.
He has dealt with a quad injury the past two seasons and the potential for a third is there. Due to the need to backpedal along with cutting and pivoting at the cornerback position, it’s no surprise he was so significantly affected by the injury. He should come into the season fully healthy from this injury, but hopefully, off-season training changed his approach to reducing further missed time.
2023 Draft Picks
All injury information comes courtesy of The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s “The Beast”
DE Will McDonald
The 15th overall draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, he appeared in 54 career games with 23 starts at Iowa State. He didn’t miss a game over that span and did not appear to have any known major injuries.
C Joe Tippmann
The Jets second-round draft pick, Tippmann comes to New York with a pair of shoulder injuries from 2020-2022 followed by a right hamstring strain, forcing him out of Wisconsin’s pro day.
Tippmann required labrum repair surgery in the offseason on his right shoulder he battled through most of the 2020 season, appearing in just two games. He then suffered a left shoulder injury that also required a labrum repair the following season, missing the 2022 spring practices.
Labrum tears are unfortunately common in NFL offensive linemen due to having their arms extended while blocking. The force from each block goes through the shoulder and can cause the humeral head to sublux or dislocate from the socket, causing the tear. He has fortunately gotten both repaired and while he won’t be immune from further re-injury, he won’t have any short-term issues as he transitions to the NFL.
OT Carter Warren
Warren missed the final nine games of the 2022 season due to a meniscus tear in his left knee. Playing left tackle, this is his kick slide leg on the outside which means he will need to be able to anchor into the ground to keep his blocks to the outside. He has not been able to participate in off-season workouts due to his rehab but appears on track to be ready for training camp.
He was observed wearing a brace on the left knee as he performed conditioning drills during OTAs and may continue the practice into the NFL. As he had the meniscus repaired, his chances for arthritis in the knee dropped significantly. Fortunately, due to Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown ahead of him on the depth chart, this will allow Warren to slowly adjust to the pro game and hopefully avoid early injuries.
RB Israel Abanikanda
Coming out of Pitt, Abanikanda dealt with several smaller injuries, missing one game in 2022 and leaving early in two other games. He was also limited in testing during the NFL Draft process due to a left hamstring strain.
He was able to participate during OTAs and appears in line to get snaps in the offense due to Breece Hall working his way back from his ACL tear. With Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight, who was working through an undisclosed issue this spring, Abanikanda has the chance to slowly ramp up his workload.
LB Zaire Barnes
The only notable injury for Barnes was an ACL tear, side not specified, prior to the 2020 season. He missed the entire season as a result but came back to lead the team with 68 tackles the following season. He is far enough removed from the ACL tear that this shouldn’t be an issue for re-injury as he enters the NFL.
CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse
After playing most of his career at Oklahoma State, Bernard-Converse transferred to LSU for his final season. Once he arrived, he suffered a Jones fracture in his foot that caused him to miss nearly all of spring practices. During each season he played, he has shown to be fairly durable, not missing much, if any time. He did suffer a concussion prior to the SEC Championship game but was cleared to play in time.
TE Zack Kuntz
A seventh-round draft pick, Kuntz comes to the Jets following a collegiate career at Penn State and Old Dominion. He brings with him several injury concerns including a broken foot in high school suffered in preseason workouts back in 2016.
He also suffered a dislocated kneecap in October 2022 that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He underwent surgery to stabilize the kneecap and considering he was able to perform combine testing indicates he is healthy.
Notable Injuries Free Agency/Trades/UDFAs
QB Aaron Rodgers
The man that the entire fanbase is pinning their Super Bowl aspirations on comes to New York with an overall healthy background, but several notable injuries. This website here does a fairly decent job at identifying most of Rodgers’ more prominent injuries but isn’t fully comprehensive.
Injuries that have slowed Rodgers down over his career include clavicle fractures to each side, thumb fracture to his throwing hand, pinky toe fracture, knee sprains, multiple calf strains including one during OTAs this year, and three concussions.
Nothing about his injury history jumps out and is an immediate cause for concern, but he is ancient in terms of NFL age. With the smaller injuries he dealt with last year and his reduced mobility from two decades of high-level football, there is some cause for concern about how effective he can be with a new team. His offensive line will be crucial to his success in keeping him upright, otherwise, Rodgers may not deliver the elusive postseason berth or deep playoff run that so many crave.
DT Al Woods
The veteran defensive tackle comes to New York after stops all around the league since his NFL career began in 2010. Woods has been fairly durable, appearing in double-digit games every season since 2012. He suffered knee and Achilles injuries last season that cost him three games but other than that, the occasional high-ankle sprain and other minor issues haven’t caused him to miss much time.
There is not much to be concerned about other than his age and the years of football on his body. He should be an excellent veteran addition to the middle of the defensive line.
WR Randall Cobb
Cobb is still somehow playing in the league since entering in 2011, suffering a wide variety of injuries including a broken fibula, high-ankle sprain, punctured lung, and multiple hamstring/groin strains. He can provide veteran leadership but I would not expect him to be very effective in the offense.
He had off-season surgery for his right ankle injury in March, unable to participate during off-season workouts.
OT Billy Turner
The veteran offensive tackle has battled a variety of injuries over his well-traveled career in the NFL. He worked through a knee injury all last season with Denver that required a late-season IR stint, limiting him to just seven games. These knee injuries have followed him the last two seasons as he missed 5 games in 2020-2021 combined.
Prior to this, he suffered a broken hand in Week 6 of the 2017 season with Denver, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. He also missed four games in 2014 as a member of the Miami Dolphins.
P Thomas Morstead
Other than a right quadriceps injury in 2015 when he was with the New Orleans Saints, Morstead has been incredibly durable.
QB Tim Boyle
The career journeyman suffered a broken thumb in 2021 during the preseason. He required surgery and was placed on injured reserve after making the roster, missing eight games.
DT Quinton Jefferson
Jefferson has had plenty of injuries over his career including two ACL tears and a Jones fracture. However, he has enjoyed two relatively healthy seasons with Las Vegas and Seattle only appearing on the injury report for a back injury in 2021 and illness in 2022.
WR Mecole Hardman
Hardman worked through a core muscle injury through the second half of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run, limiting him to just 8 games. He underwent a core muscle repair in the off-season and these repairs have very high success rates with no dropoff in performance.
WR Allen Lazard
Lazard was slowed by ankle and shoulder injuries in 2022, missing a game each time due to the injuries. 2021 saw him miss one game due to a shoulder injury and in 2020, a core muscle injury cost him six games.
C Wes Schweitzer
Schweitzer missed nine games last season due to a concussion originally suffered in Week 3, landing on injured reserve. Prior to the concussion, he suffered a hamstring strain that forced him out of Week 2. In 2021, Schweitzer suffered an ankle injury in Week 12 that forced him to injured reserve, ending his season. Prior to these injury-plagued seasons, he had only missed two games total due to a back injury and concussion. He has missed 15 games over the past two seasons and the hope is that he can rebound healthwise in New York.
S Chuck Clark
Regrettably, Clark’s season ended shortly after he was traded back in March from the Baltimore Ravens. He suffered a torn ACL during off-season workouts, requiring surgery and ending his 2023 season.
WR TJ Luther
The UDFA out of Gardner-Webb suffered a back injury in the second half of the 2022 season that caused him to miss four of the final six games of the season.
LB Claudin Cherelus
According to a scouting report at Gang Green Nation, Cherelus missed two games last season due to injury but details are scarce as to the specifics.
LB Maalik Hall
Suffered a season-ending injury in 2019 that limited him to only four games.
DL Deslin Alexandre
Missed three games in 2022 due to a right wrist injury.
DB Marquis Waters
Limited to four games in 2021 after suffering a season-ending pectoral tear.
This team has the potential to win 8-11 games based on the talent and depth on the roster. Vegas has the Jets over/under win total at 9.5 which seems in line with what we’re seeing.
The main concern will be how the offense bounces back this year. I wouldn’t expect a Pro Bowl season from Breece Hall, but his talent may shine through in the second half as they push toward the playoffs.
The offensive line must keep Aaron Rodgers clean in the pocket to let him do what he does best. The Jets invested heavily in Rodgers and the teams’ success will live and die with him. I have reservations about how he will adjust to being in the New York market with a new team, but the talent is there to produce.
The depth is better as the team improves which can absorb some of the injuries that they saw last year, but any starter that goes down is still a loss of talent. Injuries happen, but if the offensive line can stay healthy, then this team can take another step forward to end their playoff drought and continue building for the future.
Top Photo Credit: NBC Sports