Duane Brown’s return sparks the New York Jets offensive line
The New York Jets debuted their fifth offensive line combination of the 2022 season in Week 5. Duane Brown came off injured reserve and started at left tackle in his first game as a Jet, pushing Alijah Vera-Tucker over to right tackle; his third position in as many weeks. Nate Herbig stayed at right guard.
You know what they say: Fifth time’s the charm. (Okay, they don’t say that. But it applies here.)
This combination turned out a strong performance in the Jets’ 40-17 win over Miami. So far, it is the best five-man unit we have seen from the Jets this year.
First off, the pass protection was excellent. Zach Wilson was pressured on just five of his 24 dropbacks, a 20.8% pressure rate that ranked fifth-lowest among qualified quarterbacks in Week 5.
The offensive line was actually charged for only two of those five pressures. Running backs Michael Carter and Breece Hall allowed one pressure apiece while Wilson was charged with holding the ball too long on one pressure.
Looking at the offensive linemen individually, it was an incredibly clean day. Duane Brown and Connor McGovern each allowed one pressure while Laken Tomlinson, Nate Herbig, and Alijah Vera-Tucker each allowed zero.
What makes Wilson’s 20.8% pressure rate even more impressive is the fact that the offensive line earned it. Sometimes, a quarterback can end up with a low pressure rate because the coach dialed up a bunch of quick passes for him – making the number misleading in terms of what it tells you about the OL’s performance.
That is not the case here. Wilson ranked 13th out of 32 quarterbacks this week with an average of 2.73 seconds from snap to throw. The offensive line created plenty of clean pockets for him on longer-developing dropback plays.
How about Vera-Tucker? Man, oh, man. Each week, the legend of AVT grows stronger. Vera-Tucker told reporters after the game that he had never played right tackle in his life. Yet, he pitched a shutout in his first career start. The kid is unreal right now.
Herbig has been solid in his first two starts as a Jet. It seemed like the Jets got a steal when they claimed Herbig off the waiver wire, as Herbig was a starter-quality player who just happened to be on a Philadelphia team with the deepest offensive line in football. Now, the Jets are reaping the benefits of Philly’s talent overflow. It is beginning to look like the Jets’ best five-man unit has to feature Herbig.
Brown was sharp in his first game back after a shoulder injury. The veteran is playing through a torn rotator cuff. We’ll see if the effects of that injury come into play as the season goes on, but in his debut, it did not hold him back.
Tomlinson badly needed this kind of performance. He finally looked like his old self again. If he can continue playing like this each week, the Jets’ offensive line should be in good shape.
On the ground, the Jets’ offensive line set the tone for a run game that amassed five rushing touchdowns, tied for the second-most in franchise history. Thanks to those touchdowns, New York gained a ton of value out of its run game throughout the afternoon. The Jets averaged +0.15 rushing EPA (Expected Points Added) per carry, ranking fifth-best in the NFL this week.
Perhaps the Jets have finally found an offensive line quintet that works for them. It’s only one game, so it’s impossible to say that with certainty, but it was a fantastic start. They will be tested next week against a Packers defense with the sixth-highest sack rate in the NFL (8.3%).
I didn’t realize it was a torn rotator cuff for Brown. If that’s the case I don’t see how he makes it through the season. Let’s hope he can stay on the field long enough to get Fant right.
Herbig was a big addition and AVT might just be a RT. I am thrilled with him, I liked him coming out, but maybe we should tap the brakes a bit on him. I know what he is doing right now is special but let it play out over a season or several games. I mean people already talking about all-pro and pro-bowl. It hasn’t even been half a season. At this rate as soon as he has an off game the ?’s will start.
Hopefully some day the Jets’ OL will be like Philly, too much talent so they have to let some players go.
It will be interesting to see how things play out for AVT. I think he’s earned himself the leeway to have a couple of bad games since he’s already outperformed expectations so vastly. Most likely, he probably will have a bad game or two at tackle once he runs into a really good edge rusher that can expose his length limitations. Ultimately, I think he will probably settle back in at guard at some point, but for now it’s incredible what he’s doing.
Maybe he’s the outlier and the 2 inches less on his arms won’t matter. Clearly they like Herbig and he’s made a difference. They mention the “nastiness” which I think the OL was/is lacking. I think Becton provided it, Laken was supposed to provide it but until last Sunday we haven’t seen even a glimpse of it, and I don’t see it with Fant.
I can’t see them shuffling this line up if the current group is developing chemistry. Can Herbig play center?
Herbig did play some center for Philly last year.
If the line can play like this consistently, playoffs become a real possibility. Next week will be a real test. Can’t wait for Sunday.