New York Jets offensive tackle Duane Brown did not appear rusty in his first appearance of 2022
Duane Brown is set to be one of the New York Jets‘ most crucial players of the 2022 season. Following Mekhi Becton‘s season-ending injury, Brown was brought in to protect Zach Wilson‘s blindside in his all-important second year.
Brown is a five-time Pro Bowler who will have a case to make the Hall of Fame, but he is 37 years old and entering his 15th NFL season. How much gas does he have left in the tank? The answer to that question will be a major determinant in how well the Jets’ offensive line performs this year.
If his Jets debut is any indication, Brown may still have plenty to offer.
Brown looked sharp in his lone preseason appearance. Playing 21 snaps in the first-team offense’s dress rehearsal against the Giants, Brown did not allow any pressures over 12 pass-blocking snaps and earned a 90.8 run-blocking grade at Pro Football Focus over 9 run-blocking snaps.
Let’s take a look at Brown in action.
At first glance, this might look like a loss by Brown since his man makes the tackle. But it’s actually a good rep.
On this split-zone with jet motion, Brown’s job is to beat the 4-technique defensive tackle (who is lined up over him) to the play side; getting between his man and the sideline. And he does just that. Brown shows impressive quickness for his age as he bursts out of his stance and beats the DT to the spot.
Unfortunately, a lack of space on the front side of the play forces Michael Carter to cut back straight into Brown’s man – nothing Brown can do about that. All that matters in regards to Brown on this play is that he showed he still has the physical skills to execute in this outside zone run scheme.
Brown has another nice rep hidden within an otherwise messy run play.
First, Brown combines with Laken Tomlinson on a combo block to move the 3-technique DT inside. Brown gets low and shoves the DT’s hip to create some good lateral push toward the inside. Then, Brown climbs to the second level, picking up the linebacker and driving him vertically. Brown frames the LB well and pushes him about two yards vertically from the point of first contact.
Yes, the linebacker disengages from Brown to pursue the play toward the sideline, but Brown’s job was not to prevent outside pursuit. The run was not supposed to go there; Carter bounced it out to escape the traffic. Brown’s job was to pave the road for an inside run, and he got the job done beautifully.
Like the first play of this breakdown, we get another glimpse of Brown showing solid movement skills on an outside zone play.
Working against the 4i-technique DT (over his inside shoulder), Brown has a tough assignment as he needs to cross the face of a defender who is lined up with inside leverage. Brown gets it done as he fires off the ball with great snap timing before using good lateral quickness to match the defender. Brown gets hands-on and works his way out in front of the defender, successfully sealing him to the back side. To boot, Brown even creates some vertical movement.
It may not look all that special, but this is a really good block. A lot of tackles in this situation would have allowed the DT to shoot through the B-gap and make the stop from the back side. It’s very difficult to block someone who has a natural advantage due to their alignment. Brown pulled it off.
On this bootleg, Brown prevents any back side pressure with a good rep. He takes an aggressive set to sell the play fake. Once it’s clear that the Jets are passing, Brown continues working. Brown reworks his hands into the defender’s chest and completely stalls him.
We see some veteran savvy from Brown here. Early in the rep, watch as Brown quickly flashes his outside hand before pulling it back. This fake punch by Brown prompts the DE to throw his move prematurely, rendering it ineffective as the DE makes weak contact with Brown.
After the failed move, Brown takes control. Feeling the DE leaning out in front, Brown uses the DE’s momentum against him. Brown works his outside hand into the DE’s chest and his inside hand into the DE’s hip, pushing him up the field and away from the QB.
Brown does his part in handling this three-man game from the Giants defensive line.
Big Blue has its two inside defenders (the LB over the center and the LB in the B-gap) rush outside to lure the Jets’ offensive linemen in that direction, hoping to open up room for the DE to loop behind them to the inside.
Brown quickly recognizes what’s coming as he lets the DE go and turns his focus to picking up the B-gap LB. Tomlinson passes him off to Brown and Brown picks him up with aggression, throwing him far away to the outside.
As for the rest of the line, a better job could have been done. The innermost LB creates pressure as he splits Connor McGovern and Tomlinson. McGovern could have held on longer to ensure the LB was fluidly passed off to Tomlinson, and Tomlinson could have worked back inside quicker.
Great 1-on-1 win. Brown uses a jump set as he comes off the ball and steps out toward his man to engage. It’s effective, as Brown lands his outside arm into the DE’s chest while using his inside arm to catch the DE’s inside arm, limiting the DE’s force. The DE is left with nothing to do but try and work through Brown with power, which fails as Brown stays square and maintains good bend at the knees.
There’s a long way to go, but Duane Brown got off to a good start
As we discussed with Carl Lawson, we cannot sit here and declare that Duane Brown will have a successful 2022 season just because he had a couple of nice drives in the preseason against the Giants’ backups. It’s not a sample size that can be used to predict the future.
Regardless, the Jets have to be pleased with what Brown put on film in his first and only tune-up. He looks great physically and seems to have a strong grasp of the scheme.
It may take Brown time for him to build chemistry with his linemates, but he did already appear to be in sync with Laken Tomlinson for the most part. They’re a couple of Pro Bowlers with 307 combined starts, so they should be able to gel quickly.
Duane Brown’s Jets career got off on the right foot. If it’s a sign of things to come, the 2022 season should be a fun one for the Jets offensive line.