Max Mitchell, NY Jets, 2022 NFL Draft
Max Mitchell, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets LT Duane Brown did not practice on Wednesday

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was never going to play on Sunday, despite head coach Robert Saleh saying it was “possible” in his Monday afternoon press conference.

Seeing Wilson as a DNP on the injury report throughout the week was expected, but one unexpected name that popped up on Wednesday was left tackle Duane Brown, who did not practice with a shoulder injury.

Following the injury to starting right tackle Mekhi Becton, the Jets signed Brown on the 11th of August, a move which would see starting left tackle George Fant switch to right tackle. Brown signed a two-year, $20 million contract, and considering his experience at left tackle, it made sense for him to take over that role.

The last-minute nature of the signing resulted in the Jets offensive line having little-to-no time to gel as a unit. The Jets had to work to get Brown up to football shape and it wasn’t until the 24th of August that he made his debut in full 11-on-11 drills. In fact, the Jets starting offensive line played just 21 snaps together in pre-season action. Now Brown is not practicing due to a shoulder injury, resulting in more practice reps missed.

It’s too early to panic about Brown’s availability on Sunday, but if he missed more practice time this week and the Jets are forced to go to Plan B, there are really only two options.

On the depth chart, Conor McDermott is listed as the backup left tackle, but he’s also limited in practice with an ankle injury and may not be available to play. The Jets have just four tackles signed to the active roster and if two of them miss the first game that leaves you with George Fant and Max Mitchell.

Fant is coming off the best year of his career and that came at a left tackle. He allowed just 1 sack and 18 pressures over 594 pass-blocking snaps as the Jets’ starting left tackle.

While Mitchell was drafted to be a swing tackle, I can’t imagine the Jets will be comfortable starting a fourth-round rookie at left tackle who spent the last two years of his college career as a right tackle – especially when you consider the opposition and the fact the Jets have an immobile QB taking snaps.

The Jets can either:

  1. Start Mitchell at right tackle and move Fant back to left tackle to start the season with the understanding that he’ll move back once Brown is healthy, or
  2. Avoid any potential lineup questions by leaving Fant on the right side and starting a fourth-round rookie at left tackle, which is a bold but dangerous strategy.

Even if McDermott is healthy, we have to remember that he gave up 4 sacks on just 80 pass-blocking snaps last season. Giving up a sack every 20 snaps is absolutely awful. Mitchell is an unproven commodity at the NFL level, but he didn’t allow a sack over 82 pass-blocking snaps through the pre-season, with all of those snaps coming at right tackle.

If the worst happens and Brown can’t play this weekend, my preference is to move Fant back to left tackle for the game and put Mitchell in at right tackle.

We should find out more about the status of Brown today with the release of the Thursday injury report.

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Staff writer for Jets X-Factor, NFL draft writer for SB Nation, Scribe & founder of the Daily Jets Newsletter, host of the UK Jets Podcast, husband and dad. Email: d.wyatt25[at]gmail.com
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Barney Miller
Barney Miller
20 days ago

Great article. Am I the only one not seeing the connection between Zach’s “non-set back / set back” and the situation at blind side tackle? “Zach might play!” turns into “He’s out ’till Pittsburg!” but there’s “No set back”? Maybe there’s no set back for Zach. But there clearly IS a set back for Brown. Too weird of a coincidence. The Jet brass don’t want Zach starting behind McTurnstile or a rookie. It’s that simple.

Sadly, I think the Brown injury is what they’re hiding. Five bucks says that Brown will be out just as long as Zach.

mlesko73
mlesko73
20 days ago
Reply to  Barney Miller

Definitely a plausible theory. Who knows w/ the info provided by Jets media relations and Saleh?
Finding ourselves in this situation puts the microscope firmly on Joe D. I love what he has done for us, all but eliminating our dead cap while overhauling MOST of the roster. This O Line situation is simply unacceptable and it falls squarely in his lap. As an O Line guy he should know that all the skill guys in the world can’t accomplish anything w/o the trench guys doing their jobs.

Barney Miller
Barney Miller
20 days ago
Reply to  mlesko73

I don’t put the actual injury problems at his lap. And JD was gonna’ sign Brown even if Becton was okay. So that would have been nice depth. It might just be bad luck with these injuries. But two years in a row now they should look at the training staff. Maybe that needs an overhaul.

The one place I DO put the blame on Saleh is his messaging on injuries. From Becton last year to Zach and now Brown. Although the fish stinks from the head down. Are he & JD getting pressure from Johnson to downplay injuries? It could also just be no Saleh media savy. He might need training. Either say nothing like Bill up in Boston or level with us. Stop the folksy stuff. Can’t take it.

mlesko73
mlesko73
20 days ago
Reply to  Barney Miller

I’m not blaming him for the injuries, I’m blaming him for only having four OT’s on the roster and one of them being a 4th round rookie. I know there are guys down on the PS, but the talent level is the same.
As you argued, if you’re afraid to play your “franchise QB” b/c of your OLine depth that’s GM stuff

Barney Miller
Barney Miller
20 days ago
Reply to  mlesko73

Agreed. My feeling now is that they’re protecting Zach for the long run since the line isn’t up to snuff yet. I think that’s the right move. They just have to be honest about it.

John Spuhler
John Spuhler
19 days ago
Reply to  Barney Miller

Nailed it dude, just saw on ESPN: “The Jets are evaluating test results and soon will make a decision on whether to place Brown on IR, which would sideline him for a minimum of four games.”