The Jets’ week six matchup with the Minnesota Vikings poses their greatest challenge up to date: trying to stop Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Last week the Jets were fortunate enough to get a win while their secondary remained banged up and the Colts were without star wideout TY Hilton. This week is quite the different story.
Thielen has emerged as one of the league’s premiere receivers. After playing college ball at Minnesota St, his opportunities and looks from NFL teams were slim to none. He went undrafted in the 2014 but later was given a contract by the Vikings to play on their special teams.
He worked his way up and in 2017, he showed the NFL he was here to stay. While Diggs missed parts of the season with a groin injury, Thielen became the top target, exploding for 91 catches, 1,275 yards and four touchdowns. A chain mover, Thielen represents a huge part of the Vikings offense.
This year he stepped his game up. Through six games he has 58 catches, 712 yards and four touchdowns, the same amount he finished with in 2017. Not to mention he has massed 100+ receiving yards in each of those games. A product of consistency, Thielen has yet to find a cornerback that can cover him.
The Robin to his Batman stands on the outside of him. At 6’0”, 191 lbs., Stefon Diggs has been a matchup nightmare since he stepped into the league in 2015. He posted 720 yards in his rookie campaign and was immediately a big part of a rebuilding Vikings offense.
Since then he has only gotten better. Last season he battled injury and still found a way to post 849 yards and eight touchdowns. The eight touchdowns was tied for eighth best in the league in just 14 games.
More importantly, Diggs’ 61 yard touchdown catch with 10 seconds remaining in the NFC Divisional Round against the New Orleans Saints sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship with no time remaining. That play would forever be enshrined into Vikings history.
On the Jets side of the ball the team remains banged up. In the win to the Colts they lost safety Marcus Maye to a thumb injury that reportedly will keep him out 3-4 weeks.
As for corners, offseason star signing Trumaine Johnson has been inactive for the past two games with a quad injury and looks like he might not be ready to go for this week’s matchup as well. This would be huge if true because Johnson’s ability to lock up an outside receiver puts less pressure on the defense to perform.
Covering Thielen in the slot would normally be a task for Buster Skrine, who usually patrols that area. Instead, he too might be in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game with a concussion that has kept him out since week five.
Filling in for those three will presumably be Darryl Roberts (for Johnson), Parry Nickerson (for Skrine), and Doug Middleton for Marcus Maye. Although the defense looked shaky at times last week, Roberts and Nickerson played well for being injected into the starting lineup.
The Jets were lucky to face the Colts without their top target, TY Hilton. This week will be the ultimate challenge for the reserves to see if they can step up and somehow pull out a statement victory.