After disappointing interior line play by the New York Jets in 2020, Joe Thuney would make a great addition to the team in free agency.
This sounds an awful lot like déjà vu. Prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, there were rumors speculating that Joe Thuney was going to be headed to the New York Jets. As fans know, that didn’t happen. Thuney would be franchise tagged by the New England Patriots, marking what seemed like the hundredth time the Jets were spurned by head coach Bill Belichick.
The 2020 season would see Thuney playing both guard and center while seeing a slight dip in his performance. Per PFF, Thuney went from being the fifth-best guard in 2019 to 10th in 2020 (minimum 500 snaps).
Essentially though, that’s splitting hairs when you consider the state of the Patriots offense across those two years.
The 2019 Patriots had Tom Brady, a healthy Julian Edelman, and a few other skilled players on the team, helping to create a favorable environment for the offensive line. Meanwhile, the 2020 team fielded a lot of young players, had an overall lack of talent at the skill positions, dealt with a bevy of injuries on the offensive line, and featured an over-the-hill Cam Newton at quarterback.
The situation could have hardly been worse and yet Thuney performed at just as elite a level as he had before, proving his status as a top-tier guard. His allowed pressure rate of 3.3% was better than his career average of 4.3% and good enough for the 80th percentile among qualified guards. He also had the second-best run-blocking grade of his career at PFF, posting a mark of 70.2 that placed him at the position’s 77th percentile.
Joe Thuney is known for showcasing some of the best technique in the game. Whether he’s responsible for the kick out or manhandling opposing defenders one-on-one, he will leave you impressed.
#GoPats running “Long Trap” with Jet motion added to pause the playside EDGE – LG Joe Thuney with some clinic tape on using near foot/near shoulder on the kickout block, creating an arch and displacing #92. Some really good power shown by Shaq and Izzo too pic.twitter.com/hI6vnQTh8Q
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) November 10, 2020
— The Scouting Academy (@TheScoutAcademy) December 28, 2020
The Patriots converted 78% of their short-yardage runs (third or fourth down with two yards to go or less) and Thuney was a large reason why. His ability to get into the second level is elite, and it shows even when he’s playing out of position.
#Patriots left guard Joe Thuney is playing center today and that's just unfair to the #Raiders defense. Good hustle by #54 Raekwon McMillan to tackle Sony eventually but Thuney's climb to McMillan springs Michel. Sweet block. pic.twitter.com/htBwRHevCr
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) September 27, 2020
On the flip side, the Jets’ offensive line was a trainwreck, especially in pass protection. Per PFF, the Jets’ 53.3 pass-blocking grade was second-worst in the NFL, while they ranked as the 19th-best run-blocking unit with a 65.5 grade.
Saying that the New York Jets need an upgrade to the offensive line is a massive understatement. Mekhi Becton was a bright spot, but outside of him, the unit was a primary reason that the team finished with the second-worst record in the NFL.
Joe Douglas has stated that he wants to start rebuilding the team from the trenches outward, so if he is true to his word, targeting Joe Thuney is a must for the New York Jets in 2021 free agency.