The New England Patriots’ 10-3 win over the New York Jets on Sunday was an important one given that it allowed them to move to 6-4 on the season and jump ahead of their rivals in both the AFC East and the playoff standings. However, it came at a cost: the already batted offensive line suffered two potentially serious injuries.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, though, and instead take a look at who was either announced as injured or caught our eye after re-watching the game.
C David Andrews: Andrews’ first game back from a concussion that cost him the previous two contests ended after just 15 snaps. The Patriots’ starting center was slow to get up following a screen pass to Rhamondre Stevenson, and had to helped off the field by members of the team’s medical staff. He left for the locker room shortly thereafter and while initially announced as questionable to return was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game with a thigh injury.
OT Isaiah Wynn: Wynn surprisingly started the game at left tackle over Trent Brown, but he lasted only three series. The former first-round draft pick was taken off the field in the break between the first and second quarters, and later announced as questionable to return with a foot injury; he was ruled out alongside Andrews at the half. When exactly the injury happened is not quite clear given that Wynn was not obviously shaken up on his final play of the day.
QB Mac Jones: New England’s starting quarterback was under constant duress on Sunday, getting sacked six times. After one of those takedowns, in the late second quarter, it appears Jones was a bit slow to get up. However, he stayed in the game, did not show any signs of discomfort, and finished with a 100 percent playing-time share.
CB Marcus Jones: Jones had his leg checked out after a punt return in the early fourth quarter, and was replaced by Myles Bryant. While officially listed as questionable due to an ankle injury, the rookie did return and left no doubt about his status: Jones won the game for the Patriots by taking a punt return 84 yards to the house in the final seconds of regulation.
What this means for the Patriots
While it appears Mac and Marcus Jones will be fine moving forward, the same cannot be said with certainty about David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn — putting even more stress on an offensive line that already had its fair share of issues even with all hands on deck.
Andrews will reportedly miss extensive time because of his injury. There is a chance that it is of the non-season-ending variety, but a return should not be expected before the end of the regular season if even that.
As a consequence, the Patriots will again turn to veteran backup James Ferentz, who already replaced the starter during his previous two-game absence. Ferentz has considerable experience in the system and the NFL, and has been on the field for 205 offensive snaps so far this season, but he is a definitive downgrade from one of the league’s most reliable centers.
As far as Isaiah Wynn is concerned, his status appears to be up in the air for now. As opposed to Andrews, after all, he was not listed as “did not participate” on Monday’s projected injury report; he was labeled a limited participant in the fictional setting — a possible indication his injury might not be as serious as Andrews’.
If forced to miss time, however, the Patriots’ offensive tackle depth would be stressed significantly. Wynn has had a rough season, but he has positional flexibility and if playing to his capabilities — something he has only done irregularly this year — he is a starter-level tackle in the NFL.
With him potentially sidelined as well, the Patriots would have only two true tackles on their roster: left-side starter Trent Brown and right-side starter Yodny Cajuste. Both struggled against the Jets, surrendering a combined four of the six sacks given up, according to Pro Football Focus. Additionally, New England has Hunter Thedford on its practice squad as well as Marcus Cannon and Andrew Stueber on injured reserve and non-football injury, respectively.
Cannon (concussion) will have to miss two more games before being eligible to return, while Stueber (hamstring) can come off the list at any time but appears to be a long-shot to be activated. The Patriots could also move starting right guard Michael Onwenu out to tackle should push come to shove, but they would prefer keeping the third-year man in his current spot within the lineup.