Analyzing the individual preseason stats of New York Jets offensive linemen
And no position group has a greater effect on a quarterback’s development than the offensive line.
With the preseason in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look back on the exhibition performances of the men who make up what is arguably the most important position group on the entire Jets roster.
Dan Feeney stablizies after a brutal debut
Dan Feeney’s Jets career started off brutally as he was manhandled by the Giants’ second-team defensive line in the preseason opener. He posted a horrifying 15.8 pass-blocking grade at Pro Football Focus in that game, allowing three pressures over just a couple of drives with the first-team offense.
Feeney was able to find his groove over the next two games. Over 32 protection snaps across the Packers and Eagles games, Feeney allowed zero pressures. He looked much more apt and aware when it came to working in tandem with his center and tackle, providing prompt help and picking up blitzes effectively.
Those two games are certainly not enough to erase Feeney’s multiple years of brutal play in the Los Angeles Chargers’ starting lineup. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to see him quickly get back on track rather than continue to stink it up on a weekly basis as many reserve Jets offensive linemen have in recent years.
If Feeney gives the Jets an even mix of terrible games and good games when called upon this year – which ideally would be never, but injuries are a thing – that would be perfectly fine for a backup. Look back at Pat Elflein and Josh Andrews last year. They never had a good game, allowing pressures galore every single week.
A backup lineman who can be good half the time is valuable. Time will tell if Feeney is truly capable of doing just that.
Mekhi Becton puts out two great games
As I recently broke down on film, Mekhi Becton was excellent in the Jets’ games against the Giants and Packers. He did not play against the Eagles due to a head injury.
Coming out of Week 2 of the preseason, Becton had the fifth-best overall PFF grade among 44 qualified left tackles (76.5). He ranked first as a pass-blocker (81.5) and 12th as a run-blocker (71.9). Becton gave up one pressure over 22 snaps in protection.
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Connor McGovern looks poised for a turnaround
Connor McGovern sat out of the Jets’ preseason finale. It was not injury-related.
The Jets’ starting center looked improved in pass protection throughout his two appearances. McGovern gave up zero pressures over 22 protection snaps. He was also up to his usual tricks as a run blocker, creating holes in the outside zone game with his quick get-off and fluid athleticism.
In total, McGovern looked much more like the top-five pass blocker he was in Denver than the inconsistent protector he was last year.
McGovern earned a 70.8 overall grade at PFF. As of the conclusion of Friday’s games, that places him 11th out of 54 qualified centers this preseason (81st percentile).
Greg Van Roten was hot and cold
Greg Van Roten was a mixed bag in his short preseason stint. Starting the first two games at right guard and playing 44 snaps, he was great as a run blocker but struggled in pass protection.
Van Roten earned an 80.5 run-blocking grade at PFF that ranks at the 93rd percentile among qualified guards as of this writing. Conversely, his 36.0 pass-blocking grade is all the way down at the 14th percentile.
While Van Roten allowed only one pressure over 22 protection snaps, he took a handful of losses in which McGovern bailed him out to prevent pressure from being allowed.
Morgan Moses outperforms George Fant on paper, but both thrive
Morgan Moses and George Fant went into the preseason with an open competition for the starting right tackle spot, according to Robert Saleh.
Based on their deployment, it has always seemed like Moses was clearly in the driver’s seat despite Saleh’s claims that the competition was even.
Moses was the first-team right tackle in both of the preseason games he played. Fant has been the second-team right tackle and has seen plenty of time at left tackle, including a start at left tackle opposite Moses in the preseason finale. Moses has not played any snaps at left tackle.
Fant’s workload at left tackle (and Moses’ lack of work at left tackle) suggests that the Jets are preparing him to be the backup swing tackle, where he will be responsible for backing up both tackle spots.
From a performance standpoint, both players put up good numbers throughout the preseason, but it was Moses coming out on top.
Moses recorded a run-blocking grade of 71.7 at Pro Football Focus, ranking at the 72nd percentile among qualified tackles as of the conclusion of Friday’s games. Fant’s 66.1 grade placed at the 57th percentile.
As pass-blockers, Moses posted a 76.1 grade (88th percentile) while Fant earned a 63.1 grade (60th percentile).
Both players were clean in pass protection. Moses allowed zero pressures over 21 snaps in pass protection. Fant allowed one pressure over 45 snaps.
Besides Fant, non-starters struggle mightily
There aren’t many positive things to say about anybody besides Becton, Fant, McGovern, Moses, and Van Roten.
Those five players combined to allow three pressures over 132 protection snaps, a pressure rate of 2.3%.
Every other offensive lineman on the team combined to allow 25 pressures over 315 protection snaps, a rate of 7.9% – more than triple the rate of the five key players listed above.
One player had a stellar run blocking campaign that could put them on the practice squad radar.
Undrafted free agent Grant Hermanns played 115 snaps at right tackle and plowed his way to an 85.5 run-blocking grade at PFF (97th percentile among OT as Saturday morning).