The Jets’ gritty 16-9 road victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday came with a steep cost as they lost sensational rookie running back Breece Hall and versatile offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker to season-ending injuries. Both players sustained their injuries in the second quarter. Hall tore the ACL in his right knee and also experienced damage to his meniscus. Tucker suffered a torn triceps.
Hall, a second round pick by the Jets in last April’s NFL Draft out of Iowa State, was a leading candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has 463 yards rushing on 80 carries, 19 receptions for 218 yards and five total touchdowns. Vera-Tucker, selected 14th overall in the 2021 draft by the Jets from USC, had emerged as one of the team’s most indispensable players. He excelled at right guard, left tackle and right tackle this season and played all three positions at a high level.
“There’s two potential Pro Bowlers [out for the season],” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Monday. “It’s the NFL, next man up. M.C. [running back Michael Carter] proved he can carry the load, Ty Johnson did a nice job. And with the O-line, it’s been that way all year, guys shuffling in. I have a lot of faith in the guys who stepped in.”
On Tuesday, the Jets looked outside the organization for running back help and acquired James Robinson from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2023 conditional sixth-round pick. It will convert to a fifth-round pick if Robinson rushes for 600 yards this season. The 24-year-old Robinson has run for 2,177 yards on 485 attempts in 35 games played for the Jaguars since signing with them as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State in 2020. In seven games this season he has 340. Robinson is a capable back who is likely to immediately become the Jets’ primary ball carrier. They’ll need to continue to focus their offense on their ground game until second-year quarterback Zach Wilson improves his productivity as a passer. In the last two games, both victories, Wilson has thrown for under 200 yards in each. He passed for just 110 yards in a 27-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers and only 121 versus the Broncos. The Jets have won four in a row and face the New England Patriots on the road this Sunday.
They expect to have wide receiver Elijah Moore active again after he was benched on Sunday, days after he demanded a trade for his diminished role in the offense. Some of it can be attributed to Wilson’s deficiencies and some to Moore’s underperformance. The Jets anticipated Moore, a second round pick from the University of Mississippi in 2021, emerging as one of the league’s more dynamic weapons this season after amassing 59 catches, 741 yards and five TDs as a rookie.
Instead, he has only been targeted 29 times and has just 16 receptions for 203 yards and no touchdowns.