The New York Jets suffered a big blow on Thursday night as starting inside linebacker Avery Williamson went down with a knee injury. Initially thought to be a minor sprain, an MRI revealed he had torn his ACL. Williamson has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the entire 2019 season. After a solid campaign last year, Williamson was primed to play a big role in the center of the Jets D alongside the recently acquired stud C.J. Mosley.
In addition to his solid statistical performance (121 tackles, 3 sacks and a pick in 2018 according to ESPN), Williamson also served as a leader for the defense. He made signal calls, helped get the unit aligned properly, and was a positive presence in the locker room. To make matters worse, Williamson suffered the injury after every other defensive starter was pulled from the game. Every. Single. One. The injury hurts, but the coaching decision that led to it reeks of the bungling culture that has plagued the Jets for years.
Despite the loss, the Jets’ defense still has potential. They signed veteran linebacker Albert McClellan to help fill the gap in the middle. McClellan’s seasons playing with Mosley in Baltimore should help limit the damage of losing Williamson. New York's defensive linemen form a formidable group with veteran Leonard Williams and third overall pick Quinnen Williams leading the way. The Jets are also far from weak at safety as team captain Jamal Adams, who was voted 37th best player in the league by his peers, commands the secondary.
However, the cornerback position remains a large question mark, as does the effectiveness with which coordinator Gregg Williams will be able to utilize the weapons available to him. Williamson’s injury only serves to add more uncertainty to a defense with a few glaring weaknesses despite the potential it shows on paper. Fans can only hope that by the regular season the Jets figure out how to translate potential into production.