Everything was looking up for the Jets. They were up against Denver, star running back Breece Hall had yet another touchdown and were on the way to a 5-2 record. While they held on to the win, it was a pyrrhic victory with Hall going down to what looks like an ACL injury. What do the Jets do without arguably their best weapon?
What Does Breece Hall Mean For The Jets When Healthy?
Raw speed certainly wasn’t why the Jets took Hall in their fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Rather, his agility, reliability, high-throughput running, and toughness made him an appealing pick. At Iowa State, he rattled off two 1000+ yard seasons, including a 1500-yard season in 2020 where he led the country in rushing yards. He could get into the end zone and scored 41 TDs in those final two seasons as a Cyclone. Finally, he took care of the ball super well, with just three fumbles in over 800 college touches.
It has been a pleasant surprise for Jets fans to see how well these traits have translated to the NFL level. Hall showed agility, cutting and changing direction well, executing spin moves, etc… He’s also a smart and tough player. He has been able to run in traffic well by navigating the smallest of gaps and toughing out yards after contact.
The stats have backed what we’ve seen on tape. Hall has had 463 yards off just 84 carries, with four rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown off 19 receptions. He’s been able to do it all for the Jets, especially in the last few games, following a near-100-yard game against Miami with a 100+ yard game against Green Bay and a game today where he had 72 yards off just four carries, and would have passed 100 with ease had he stayed in. As the Jets increased his throughput, his output soared as well, and with 5.8 yards per carry, he has been special this year. All this makes the brunt of the injury even tougher.
How Do The Jets Adjust Without Hall?
Luckily for New York, the Jets have depth at running back. Michael Carter is coming off a great first NFL season in 2021, where he had over 600 rushing yards and four touchdowns with 4.4 yards per carry, as well as 36 receptions. Carter has taken a considerable load of carries, with 53 carries for 228 yards, two touchdowns, and 36 receptions.
Carter is an athletic back who’s fast enough to get to the edge and has some big play potential and reliability. This season though, he has struggled to get going, with only 3.4 yards per carry, and only one game this year (week one) where he passed 50 rushing yards. The Jets will need a lot more from him to succeed the rest of the way. Ty Johnson, who has had limited roles in both Detroit and New York, will need to have an elevated role the rest of the way as he got his first carry of the season today.
Unfortunately for the Jets, this injury will also require Zach Wilson to play a larger role. Wilson has certainly improved from a rough rookie season and has been able to manage the offense well, but his task was made a lot easier with Hall at the center of the attack axis. Wilson has only crossed 250 yards once and only crossed 200 yards twice in four starts, with less than 60 percent completions and just one touchdown to two interceptions.
Wilson will need to step up, take care of the ball, and often win the games with his own arm while taking care of the ball. To do that, he’ll need to develop better chemistry with a pretty solid Jets pass-catching core of Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, Garrett Wilson, and Tyler Conklin. They all have more potential than their numbers reflect. How the passing game adjusts to a larger involvement will be a big component of how the Jets do this season.
The Bottom Line
There’s no hiding that this injury could be a huge one for the Jets. Hall was one of their rising stars and a big reason for their surprisingly great start to the season. However, the Jets have depth and talent, and if Zach Wilson can step up to the occasion, the season is still salvageable, especially with such a good record currently.
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