NY Jets, Head Coach, HC, Robert Saleh, 2022
New York Jets, Robert Saleh, Getty Images

Give credit to the New York Jets’ coaches for keeping the undermanned offensive line afloat

The New York Jets‘ offensive line has been dealing with an injury epidemic since long before the 2022 regular season began – specifically at the tackle position.

New York has seen five tackles miss time due to injury: Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown, George Fant, Max Mitchell, and Alijah Vera-Tucker (Vera-Tucker began the season at guard but eventually moved to tackle due to the injuries).

Because of these injuries, the Jets have had nine different offensive linemen take snaps for them this year, and they have been forced to use four different starting offensive line combinations. They currently have two offensive linemen on the active roster who were not on the team in any capacity when the season began.

Offensive lines that deal with this much disarray should be abysmal. It’s a position predicated upon communication and chemistry. You’re not supposed to be able to thrive when you’re shuffling the deck every two weeks.

But against all odds, the Jets’ offensive line has somehow maintained respectability.

New York’s offensive line was a key cog in the team’s 20-17 upset win over the Buffalo Bills. In both the pass game and the run game, the Jets’ makeshift front-five dominated the line of scrimmage.

The Week 9 duel against Buffalo marked the second consecutive game in which this crew started together:

All five players were stout in pass protection. Across 29 pass-blocking snaps, the Jets’ offensive linemen were credited with allowing only one pressure (which was tagged to Herbig). Four of the five players pitched shutouts. Clean pockets were common for quarterback Zach Wilson.

It is important to note that the offensive line certainly got plenty of help from a quick-hitting passing attack. Wilson averaged a career-low 2.39 seconds from snap to throw, which ranks fifth-fastest among qualified quarterbacks in Week 9. Still, even with the help of quick passes, it is extremely impressive for an entire offensive line to be credited with allowing one measly pressure in an entire game.

The ground game is where the Jets’ offensive line really shined. New York rushed for 174 yards in a clock-controlling offensive performance. It stands as the team’s second-best rushing total of the season.

Running backs Michael Carter and James Robinson combined to rush for 124 yards on 25 carries (5.0 per carry). Carter scored a walk-in rushing touchdown from six yards out thanks to stupendous blocking up front, highlighted by McGovern, Herbig, and Ogbuehi.

Robinson scored on a seven-yard screen pass that was set up by a great open-field block from Herbig.

The highlight of the day for New York’s offensive line was a 13-play, 86-yard drive in the fourth quarter that not only put the Jets in the lead, but chewed up over six minutes of clock and all three of Buffalo’s timeouts. New York ran the ball on the first eight plays of the drive and gained 73 yards on those, averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Snap after snap, the Jets’ offensive line imposed its will on Buffalo’s top-ranked defense, creating room for Carter and Robinson to make plays.

Give credit to head coach Robert Saleh and his staff, specifically offensive line coach John Benton. Despite the constant rotation of players, Benton has been yanking enough production out of this unit for the Jets to continue winning football games. Guys seem to be stepping right in and quickly understanding their roles in the scheme.

New York’s season could have been ruined by the onslaught of injuries to the offensive line. Instead, the Jets have been able to stay on schedule.

The Jets have braved the toughest part of their offensive line journey (so far), as reinforcements are expected to arrive after the bye week. Tackles George Fant and Max Mitchell are expected to be activated off injured reserve.

It will be interesting to see how Benton and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur decide to manage the offensive line once Fant and Mitchell return. There will be plenty of options. Regardless of what they decide, Jets fans can rest easy knowing Benton has earned the benefit of the doubt. He’s continuously gotten this injury-stricken offensive line to perform far better than it has any right to.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Rich
Rich
29 days ago

Gotta give McGovern props for his stability. I don’t think he’s missed a snap all year and that is important with all the turmoil on the line. Add in seasoned vets Brown and Tomlinson, I can see how they’ve been able to patch this thing together despite all the injuries, new faces, and young players. Also, having two very good blocking TEs has helped keep things together.

mlesko73
mlesko73
1 month ago

If you watch the clips you provided you will see that we are pulling on almost every one of these plays. Traps and powers are perfect for both of our backs (and Breece).
A fantastic job from coaching to execution.
I’m not sure how we will deal w/ the return of Fant & Mitchell. I think I’d just stay w/ what has been working…if AVT were returning that’d be a different story.

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Barney Miller
Barney Miller
1 month ago

Another great breakdown Michael. Love that end zone angle! You learn so much. Like how well those crazy pre-snap motions worked. Moore & Berrios were going back & forth and running AROUND Zach all day. You see it on that first play where the entire LB crew had to adjust twice to Moore’s movement. Then they’re not settled by the time the ball is snapped. Right?

“Moore didn’t do anything!” Scream the fantasy nerds who only read box scores. Looks to me like he and Braxton did more than we realize. Even with only 1 catch between the two of them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Barney Miller
Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
1 month ago

If Herbig gave up the only pressure, what do you call it when Ogbuehi gave up a strip sack?

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
27 days ago

I was wondering the same thing. That’s like when they give a CB a PD when he got an INT. A pass deflection and an INT are two different things.

Last edited 27 days ago by Mike Palazzo
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Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 month ago

The Jets are Flying under the radar this year with what they have accomplished as a team and as an organization. Which is great in terms of there identity and who they want to be. As long as they feel good about it then that’s all that matters. It’s now the half way point in the season and they are playing meaningful games in November. They set that “Short Term Goal” and have achieved it. The Division is getting tight and might remain that way into December. There next Goal is to prove that they can beat the Patriots in Foxboro.

Barney Miller
Barney Miller
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Palazzo

As long as Zach plays smart like he did in this game, I think the Pats are very beatable even at home. We lost to them but ONLY 5 points on what was arguably Zach’s worst game of the year and maybe his career. (That first 4 interception game last year may have been worse). Pats looked good against the Colts, but the Colts are a hot mess. I think we’re gonna’ ball out up in Foxboro.

dudizt
dudizt
1 month ago

Benton has a done a good job but reality is I think most of this falls with Zach playing better.

Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby
1 month ago
Reply to  dudizt

How much of it is actually Buffalo’s fault?

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 month ago

Everyone is talking about the defense and they’re right. But what the OL did yesterday was impressive, especially on the last drive. Big props to the players and offensive coaches, great plan, great execution.