The NY Jets' secondary will be incredibly shorthanded entering their Week 5 matchup with the Denver Broncos on Sunday, with both D.J. Reed (concussion) and Brandin Echols (hamstring) ruled out due to injury.
While the Jets will see the return of safety Tony Adams on Sunday, they will be without two of their top four cornerbacks. Reed, in particular, is a massive loss.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters earlier this week that he was confident Reed would play in Week 5. Evidently, Saleh's confidence isn't a legitimate medical evaluation.
With Reed and Echols sidelined, the Jets will be down to just Sauce Gardner, Michael Carter II, and Bryce Hall in their cornerback room. They also have Justin Hardee, but he's played just two defensive snaps over the last four years.
So what should the Jets do? What is the team's plan to deal with Reed and Echols' absences?
What will the NY Jets do without D.J. Reed in Week 5?
The first and most obvious solution is to simply replace Reed with Hall on the outside. The former fifth-round pick started all 17 games for the Jets in 2021 and looked like a potential building block of the future.
That was until Hall was replaced by Gardner and Reed in the offseason, and since then, he's struggled in limited action. His 26.2 Pro Football Focus grade in 2023 is the lowest among all 167 cornerbacks to play at least one snap this season. That's not great.
The Jets could also consider moving Carter to the outside and having either Hall or someone else take his snaps in the slot. That's probably not an ideal solution, however, given both Carter and Hall's inexperience playing out of position.
The Jets do have some defensive flexibility with guys like Tony Adams and Ashtyn Davis. Adams was a cornerback in college, and Davis has experience playing nickel corner. Both players could be used in that role on Sunday.
There's also the likely scenario where the Jets elevate a cornerback from their practice squad for Sunday's game. Veteran Craig James seems like the most obvious candidate, but the team did also sign the likes of Tae Hayes and Kalon Barnes this week.
The Jets have some options, and if Hall plays like the 2021 version of himself who led the NFL with 16 pass breakups, the team should be just fine. Nonetheless, they will certainly miss Reed and Echols on Sunday.