The New Orleans Saints have lost five games in a row and the New York Jets have lost four of five.
Both teams will try to snap out of their slumps when they meet Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.
But both the Saints (5-7) and the Jets (3-9) have been significantly hampered by a series of injuries to key players.
The Saints’ last win came on Halloween in a 36-27 victory against Tampa Bay in which quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The first four losses of this streak came with Trevor Siemian starting in Winston’s place. Taysom Hill, who had been sidelined by a concussion and a foot injury, started the last game, suffered a ligament injury in the middle finger of his throwing hand and played through it in a 27-17 home loss to Dallas on Dec. 2.
Hill threw four interceptions, three of which came on successive fourth-quarter possessions. He also ran for a career-high 101 yards.
“All the positives were overshadowed by the turnovers,” said Hill, who was a full participant in practice Wednesday.
Head coach Sean Payton didn’t say that Hill will start against the Jets, but that seems likely.
“I was pretty comfortable making all of the throws today,” Hill said after practice. “I was encouraged, but it’s still a work in progress.”
So is the offense, as seven starters have been sidelined by injury. Left tackle Terron Armstead and star running back Alvin Kamara returned to practice on a full-time basis Wednesday. At the same time, backup running back Mark Ingram II was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, where he joined defensive end Cameron Jordan.
“We had a tough stretch, (but) it’s behind us,” Payton said. “No one’s going to be upset or feel sorry for you. We have to be able to pick ourselves up here and get ready to play some good football in this last five-week stretch of the season.”
The Jets had eight players who did not participate in practice Wednesday — on top of wide receiver Corey Davis, who will miss the rest of the season after aggravating a core-muscle injury during a 33-18 loss to Philadelphia last week.
They have 15 players on injured reserve and eight veteran free agents they signed during the offseason are now out for the rest of the season.
“This organization has been through a rough time over the last 10 years,” first-year coach Robert Saleh said. “It’s not something that’s easy to fix. It’s not easy to change the narrative. It’s not easy to change the perception.”
New York ranks last in the NFL in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense in addition to being 30th in run defense.
“We have to change the narrative by our play,” defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi added. “Our level of play has to rise and continue to strive to do better.”
Saleh, who was hired after a successful four-year stint as San Francisco’s defensive coordinator, took responsibility for fixing the defense.
“I do look at coaches to get this fixed,” Saleh said.
The Jets allowed an average of 24.2 points during the first five games, but have allowed an average of 35.1 since, including games of 54, 45 and 45 points. In the last three games, though, the average has been 23.7.
“When you’re dealing with a young team,” Saleh said, “there are going to be some ebbs and flows, but we see guys getting better and taking the right steps.”
–Field Level Media