Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Friday confirmed his worst fears when he told reporters that safety Marcus Maye, the longest-tenured player for the Green & White, would miss the rest of the 2021 NFL season after tearing the Achilles tendon in his right ankle in Thursday night's loss at Indianapolis.
"I've seen the story, unfortunately, one too many times in this league," Saleh said. "It's never good initially, it sucks. One thing with Marcus is that he's a young man [he's 28] with a tremendous mindset. He's made of grit. The ride is not over. The story's not over. If anyone can come back from this it's Marcus. I know it hurts now and for everyone, but he'll come back from this. He has our full support."
Maye is the second Jets player to sustain a season-ending Achilles tendon injury after DE Carl Lawson, signed in free agency, went down in training camp. In addition, S Lamarcus Joyner, another addition in free agency, has missed the season with a torn triceps muscle. Maye is playing this season on a franchise tag.
"I always hope all these guys continue wearing green," Saleh said. "Even if it doesn't, he's still in the Jets family for life. With Marcus, hopefully he gets healthy and he's back here."
Maye, who was drafted by the Jets in the second round (No. 39 overall) in 2017, earlier this season missed two games with, coincidentally, an ankle injury. He returned, bringing his veteran presence to a young and evolving group of defensive backs. In six games, all starts, he checked in as second on the team in total tackles (46, 30 solo), and added 4 TFL and a sack.
"It's heartbreaking," said defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. "He's a guy that, obviously, he's in the midst of a contract year and a lot of guys, which is normal in this league, guys in that situation can become very selfish. And I get that, too. This is a business and guys are trying to make as much money as possible.
"It can become twisted up by the contract stuff. But what is absolutely so heartbreaking is that with Marcus he was never that guy. He came in every day and worked his ass off. He laid it on the line every day. He's the general back there, the guy with the moxie and savvy to communicate, and he's a guy that's been a reliable eraser for us. He'll be sorely missed. We have a group of guys that will have to step up."
That group currently includes Ashtyn Davis, Sharrod Neasman and Jarrod Wilson.
QB Room Filled With Talent ... and Options
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson (PCL) and veteran backup Mike White (right arm) are each expected to practice next week ahead of the Jets game against the visiting AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills on Nov. 14.
"We'll see where they are from an injury standpoint," Saleh said. "Zach is trending and Mike is trending in that direction [of being available to practice]. I'll have more information as we get closer to Monday."
Wilson, the No. 2 overall draft choice this year, sustained a right knee injury in the Jets' loss at New England. White, who replaced him against the Patriots and then put up eye-popping numbers in last Sunday's upset of Cincinnati, was forced out of Thursday night's loss at Indianapolis after taking a hit to his right arm on his 19-yard TD pass to a quickly emerging Elijah Moore.
"He [White] got hit in the perfect spot, my understanding is that it's a nerve contusion," Saleh said. "His arm just went dead. He couldn't grab the ball. Toward the end of the game, with Josh [Johnson] rolling it was not worth making the change. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that he could grip the ball. Right now it's a matter of the swelling going down."
Johnson, the veteran backup who has played for 13 NFL franchises, performed admirably as the backup to the Jets' backup QB. He hit on 27-of-41 passes for 317 yards, 3 TDs and a 103.4 QB rating. Add the recently acquired Joe Flacco to the room and Saleh and his staff have myriad choices to consider.
"We're going to talk about all that stuff," Saleh said. "Quarterback is in the forefront of our minds. It's a very young offense trying to be developed. We'll see through practice and reps. I'm not saying it is a competition, we still have two guys who are not fully 100 percent. We'll see how practice goes as we get closer to it [the Bills game]."
DC Jeff Ulbrich: 'Not Good Enough'
After 532 yards of total offense by the Colts on Thursday night, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich's job just got tougher with Maye's season-ending injury.
"It's a combination of the coaches having to put them in better spots and they have to play better, too," Ulbrich said. "We're all in this together. It's a collective effort. The run defense was just not good enough [Indy had 260 net yards rushing with RB Jonathan Taylor amassing 172 yards on 19 carries]. From a coaching perspective it was not good enough and from a player perspective it was not good enough.
"The only way out of this hole is digging together and that's what we're going to do."