Throughout the season, NewYorkJets.comreporters Eric Allen, Randy Lange and Ethan Greenberg will each give their answers to a series of questions regarding this year's team.
EA: The Jets have never lost at home to the Minnesota Vikings. You like that? You would love to have everyone healthy for this Week 7 matchup, but such is life in the National Football League. The Jets have won the past two games without cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Maye didn't play the first three games of the season. When Quincy Enunwa went down last week, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold quickly adjusted and hit Jermaine Kearse nine times. Chris Herndon and Neal Sterling each had a pair of receptions and Darnold is a big fan of his tight ends. When the Jets run the football, they win. It's as simple as that. This offense is predicated on its balance and Darnold is getting better every week behind an offensive line that continues to gel. (Where's all that talk about that much-maligned unit now?) The Jets have to exploit a potential mismatch with their defensive line matching up with a Vikings offensive line that has been uneven through six games. Kirk Cousins is a streaky player who is surrounded by excellent weapons, but he'll take his chances. When the opportunities are there, the Green & White have to continue their thievery. If the Jets can continue to get solid special teams play, convert on their chances in the red zone and have that defensive front let Cousins know it's going to be a long day, Todd Bowles' club can overcome these various ailments and complete a perfect three-game homestand. You like that?
RL: Injuries are always a concern to any team's winning ways. That being said, all teams deal with injuries at this time of year, and this is when you really appreciate the meaning of "next man up." And in theory, the Jets should be able to weather their recent storm of injuries. The team talked since the offseason about this year's strong depth at all positions, and it really seemed to be true. Now is the time for that depth to pay off. At WR, for instance, fans might fear that for the Vikings, Sam Darnold has lost his first favorite receiver in Quincy Enunwa (out). But he found Jermaine Kearse quite nicely last week, Robby Anderson seems good off his hamstring early in the week. It may also be time to see Andre Roberts more than just at returner, and Charone Peake appears ready to return to action and could contribute some clutch catches, which he did as a rookie in '16 and this preseason. Ditto at safety, where Marcus Maye is out but Doug Middleton has already started for him this year and Terrence Brooks jumped in last week and got reps there as well. And at corner, Buster Skrine (out) and Trumaine Johnson (doubtful) may be missing, but Morris Claiborne told me this week, "We have no better backup than D-Rob," Darryl Roberts. "Anybody falling down, down and out, he's the guy they call on and he's come through and he'll do a hell of a job." Along with Roberts, rookie Parry Nickerson's been playing, Juston Burris and Rashard Robinson are back, and Derrick Jones is also available after a good summer. The bottom line is injuries are painful, in several ways, but sport is chock full of inspirational tales of players stepping in and rising to the occasion. I think the Jets will rise to the occasion on Sunday.
EG: At this point in the season, no team is fully healthy and both of these clubs are dealing with a number of injuries. For the Jets, the good news is they've shown they can win games when less than full strength. Trumaine Johnson hasn't played the last two games, Buster Skrine went down in Week 5 and Marcus Maye didn't play in the season's first three contests. Fully healthy or not, the Jets defense has a tough test Sunday against a Vikings offense that features perhaps the best wide receiver duo in the league in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Kirk Cousins is completing over 71% of his passes, but the Jets defense has played well at home, holding opposing teams to 33.3% on third down at MetLife Stadium since 2015. I think Sunday will be a good test for the offense. When WR Quincy Enunwa went down last week, the unit didn't miss a beat. I'm curious to see how the rest of the cast performs including Andre Roberts, Charone Peake, newly promoted Deontay Burnett and the tight ends. Roberts is a wily vet, Peake is a special teams ace who missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, Burnett was one of Darnold's favorite targets at USC, and the tight ends have been coming on the last three weeks as they've totaled 125 yards and two scores on 11 receptions. Keep an eye on TE Neal Sterling, a former receiver out of Monmouth who could see more playing time out wide as the Jets navigate their ailments at receiver.