The NY Jets have placed Folorunso Fatukasi on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Fatukasi has been one of the lone bright spots on a disappointing defense for Gang Green this season. Unfortunately, he won’t be on the field when the Jets take on the Los Angeles Rams this week.
Per Al Iannazzone of Newsday, Fatukasi didn’t test positive himself but was instead a close contact of someone who tested positive. The hope is that his stint on the COVID-19 list is a brief one and that he can return in Week 16.
However, he will be required to spend a minimum of five days on the list as a result of his close contact meaning that he won’t be able to suit up this week.
Fatukasi has been a dominant force for the Jets this season after a breakout campaign a year ago. The Far Rockaway native finished as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 10 overall interior defensive lineman last season establishing himself as a long-term building block on defense.
And he’s followed up his success in 2019 with an even more impressive 2020 campaign. Fatukasi has upped his PFF grade by nearly 5.0 points and is currently the highest-graded run defender in the NFL.
Simply put, few players on the team — if any — have been as dominant at their position as Fatukasi has this season. For that reason, the Jets will certainly miss him this week.
The NY Jets will miss Folorunso Fatukasi in a big way on Sunday
Perhaps the biggest reason his absence will affect the Jets, aside from his outstanding play, is that there really isn’t anyone on the roster who could replace him. Fatukasi is the only true nose tackle on the team.
Perhaps the Jets will opt to use players like Nathan Shepherd or even Quinnen Williams in that role, but there isn’t anyone who can fill the massive gap left in the middle of the defense with Fatukasi out.
That also means Williams could struggle to make as significant of an impact with his focus possibly shifting to Fatukasi’s role of eating blocks.
Either way, don’t expect the Jets’ defensive line — particularly their run defense — to look anywhere near as competent this week.
The Jets will realize just how important Fatukasi is to their defense this week when the Rams likely pick them apart.