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Why the New York Jets should sign Patriots guard Joe Thuney

Joe Thuney
(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

Those struggles all started on the interior. Alex Lewis, Pat Elflein and Josh Andrews were each among the top-15 worst pass-protecting guards in terms of pressure rate among 97 qualifiers.

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.

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Sean Bird
Sean Bird
3 years ago

I think that we are going to sign Thuney then pick a guard in the 1st round then pick a tackle 3rd round.

verge tibbs
3 years ago

Yea hopefully we can get thuney this year. Him replacing lewis makes a weakness a strength. That with becton taking another step, fant in his only 2nd year starting at his position, and mcgovern continuing his upward trend from end half of season, and hopefully a qb that has any type of feel for the pocket.. we’ll be average or possibly above. Sure its wishful thinking but I believe it. But i think they really still need to infuse the line with picks to be that depth they severely lacked last year. Mcdermott and andrews just cant be jets any longer. Tbh, i dont even want lewis or elfein as backups, not good enough.

Robby Sabo
3 years ago
Reply to  verge tibbs

It would be huge. Thuney at LG, Wyatt Davis at RG (or whoever they feel comfortable with at No. 34 or 23).

verge tibbs
3 years ago
Reply to  Robby Sabo

That would be great. And its definitely possible since JD has shown us that he’s serious about upgrading the OL.

3 years ago
Reply to  verge tibbs

Nailed it. you need to cut Lewis for CAP, five million. Elflein at Vet minimum, strictly depth , maybe a better Center than Guard. Developmental Depth May be available in the fourth & fifth round, deep class

verge tibbs
3 years ago
Reply to  JetOrange

Its so nice having a good amount of picks so we can actually build like this. Developmental OL depth in mid rounds? Niiice