Jaguars will be shorthanded vs. Jets, Shenault and Allen won’t play
The New York Jets were going to be shorthanded in their Week 16 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to an outbreak of COVID-19. But the field just got leveled, as the Jags have also been affected by the virus and will also be without a trio of players Sunday.
The Jaguars have announced they have placed outside linebacker Josh Allen, wide receiver Laviska Shenault, and offensive guard Bert Bartch on the COVID-19 list. Up until this point of the regular season, rookie Walker Little had been the only Jaguars player that had landed on the aforementioned list.
Allen, cornerback C.J. Henderson and right guard A.J. Cann landed on the list but that was during the offseason and it didn’t affect their availability for games. The truth is that this isn’t surprising news as there’s been a surge in COVID-19 cases around the league and it was just a matter of time the Jags were affected the way other clubs have.
Since placing coach Saleh on the COVID-19 list, the Jets have also added quarterback Joe Flacco and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Other Jaguars could still be ruled out for the game. However, it doesn’t look like the league will need to force to reschedule this or any other matchup this week, which is something they were forced to do in Week 15.
How do the Covid-19 cases affect the Jaguars in Week 16?
Josh Allen is the Jaguars’ best pass rusher and their ability to disrupt the Jets’ passing game will be compromised. What’s worse is that the 2019 first-round pick won’t suit up for Week 17 either, as he needs to spend at least ten days on the COVID-19 list due to his unvaccinated status.
Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen could try to make up for his absence by sending secondary blitzes the way he did in Week 14. Damien Wilson also has done a good job of rushing the quarterback the last couple of weeks, posting five pressures in that span. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the coaching staff have him blitz often against the Jets.
Also, rookie Jordan Smith may make his NFL debut. The 2021 fourth-round pick has been inactive for every single game this season but could finally see some game action Sunday. He wouldn’t start but could be part of the defensive front rotation.
The Jaguars’ offense will also need to adjust in Week 16.
Ben Bartch took over right tackle when A.J. Cann suffered an MCL injury in Week 4. He’s started there ever since and will miss his first game of the 2021 season. Having said that, he will have to exit the Jags’ Week 6 matchup against the Miami Dolphins and Will Richardson took his place in the lineup. The 2018 third-round selection will probably get the starting nod at right tackle. He is set to be a free agent next year, so a good performance in Week 16 would increase his stock.
To replace Laviska Shenault Jr., Tavon Austin will likely see more playing time in Week 16. Laquon Treadwell will most likely start opposite veteran Marvin Jones Jr. and Austin will join them in three-wide receiver sets. The 2013 first-round pick has played more than 40 percent of the team’s offensive snaps just twice this season. Week 16 will probably make it three times.
Both the Jaguars and the Jets will be without some key contributors Sunday and whoever adjusts better might win the game.