New York Jets Defensive End Sheldon Richardson has been suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The news came out earlier this afternoon. Richardson will serve his suspension throughout the first four games of the season without pay.
Richardson will miss games against the Browns, Colts, Eagles and the Dolphins. He will be eligible to return in Week 6 against the Redskins. Richardson will be able to participate in all offseason activities, including the team’s four preseason games but this is still does not come as good news if you’re a New York Jets fan.
Richardson is going into his third year of his NFL career. He was drafted by the Jets with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Richardson has had a great start to his NFL career including winning NFL Rookie Defensive player of the Year in 2013. Last year Richardson started all 16 games making 66 tackles, 8 sacks and 1 forced fumble. He has become a leader on this Jets defense the last two years.
The suspension will definitely hurt the Jets chances to get off to a good start in the 2015 season. The New York Jets defensive line has been their biggest strength over the past couple of seasons. This loss of Richardson could also be a positive for the defensive lineman as it will give General Manager Mike Maccaganan an even bigger reason to get a done deal with Jets lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
Wilkerson is currently on a holdout as he is waiting for a new deal and in Richardson’s absence the Jets will need to get that deal done sooner than later. The other positive is that the Jets would replace Richardson in the first four games with their 2015 first round draft pick Leonard Williams. Williams was regarded as many to be the best overall defensive player in the 2015 NFL Draft. Getting him off to a big start and having him start on the line in the spot of Sheldon Richardson could help start his NFL career.
With the suspension only being four games it shouldn’t hurt the Jets in the long term but with some of the opponents they are facing throughout the first four weeks it could hurt their chances at the playoffs. In Week 1 the Jets takes on the Cleveland Browns it’s hard to believe the loss of Sheldon Richardson would cost them a game against them especially with that game being their home opener.
They then travel to Indianapolis Week 2 and take on the Colts on Monday Night Football. This one could be interesting as the Jets defensive line will need to get to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to have a shot at that game. The Week 3 game against the Eagles is similar to the first game where the Jets defense shouldn’t have a huge problem with getting to the quarterback but they may have trouble stopping Eagles Running Back DeMarco Murray from running the ball, that could be the key for Week 3 against the Eagles.
Week 4 against the Dolphins without Richardson could be interesting. With Richardson the Jets would’ve had a better chance to get to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and force a couple of turnovers. Without Richardson it could be a lot tougher to rattle Tannehill.
The Jets will have a bye week in Week 5, so Richardson will be eligible to return Week 6 at home when the Jets host the Washington Redskins. Even though it’s just four games these could all be important games for the Jets that they will miss their star player on defense. Richardson has apologized to the media, the players, his teammates, the coaches, and the fans.
He stated “I apologize for my mistake and for disappointing the people who mean everything to me.” That was a tweet from Richardson just minutes after his suspension was announced by the NFL. In the long term this suspension won’t totally hurt the Jets season but in the short term through the team’s first four games of the season it could hurt them if they get off to a bad start.