The Jets against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium today has been viewed through several different prisms already this year.
For months after the NFL schedule was announced, this looked like an engaging late Sunday afternoon national marquee game on the league's October schedule between Aaron Rodgers' Jets and Jalen Hurts' Eagles. When Rodgers suffered his Achilles injury on opening night, the game from the outside looking in transformed into a wounded Jets squad trying to climb a big hill for their first victory ever over Philadelphia, the undefeated defending NFC champion.
This past week, the game has morphed yet again, into a matchup of green-and-white-uniformed teams going at each other with ravaged secondaries. Will the offenses be able to airmail touchdowns from all over MetLife Stadium? That's how it might look on paper, but of course NFL games are always decided on the field of battle, often by the next men up.
The Jets announced Saturday that CB Sauce Gardner, last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, has been ruled out for this game with a concussion after being listed on the injury report for the first time Friday. With D.J. Reed already declared out for the second week, also with a concussion, the Jets are down both of their starting cornerbacks.
See photos the Jets arriving at MetLife Stadium for Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Additionally, backup CB Brandin Echols (hamstring) will sit out a second game, and Justin Hardee, a CB by defensive position but also the Jets' special teams leader, has been placed on injured reserve for at least four weeks, also with a hamstring issue.
The likely Jets corner starters are nickel Michael Carter II and Bryce Hall, who started early and starred late at Denver last week in place of Reed. For depth, the team has elevated from the practice squad CBs Craig James and Tae Hayes. Another activation to note on the offensive side of the ball: Rookie T Carter Warren has been moved from Injured Reserve to the Active Roster.
Hurts and the Eagles' dangerous offense may be able to attack the Jets' bruised defensive backfield, but Zach Wilson and the Jets could possibly do the same against a Philly defense also missing starters.
Already out are perennial Pro Bowl starting CB Darius Slay and starting S Justin Evans, both with knee injuries. Up front, DT Fletcher Cox (back), inactive for the Eagles' road win over the Rams last week, is likely to return to action. But key rookie reserve DT Jalen Carter, who leads the Birds with 3.5 sacks, went on the team's injury report Thursday with an injured ankle and was declared out Friday. Starting WR Quez Watkins (hamstring) was also a midweek injury/Friday scratch.
Here is the Jets' seven-man inactives list:
- CB Sauce Gardner
- CB D.J. Reed
- WR Jason Brownlee
- RB Israel Abanikanda
- CB Brandin Echols
- LB Zaire Barnes
- DL Micheal Clemons
And these are the Eagles' seven inactive players:
- CB Darius Slay
- QB Tanner McKee (3rd QB)
- S Sydney Brown
- RB Rashaad Penny
- TE Albert Okwuegbunam
- DT Marlon Tuipulotu
- DT Jalen Carter