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Return of key reinforcements sparked NY Jets OL to dominance

Mike White, NY Jets, Stats, Offensive Line, OL, Rank
Mike White, New York Jets Offensive Line, Getty Images

Inching closer to full strength, the New York Jets’ offensive line was firing on all cylinders in Week 12

The New York Jets‘ offensive line got some key reinforcements back ahead of its Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears. Right guard Nate Herbig stepped back in after missing one game. Right tackle Max Mitchell returned after a six-game absence. Wide receiver Corey Davis, a ferocious run-blocker, was another important returnee for the blocking brigade.

With these players back in the fray, the Jets’ offensive front put together a phenomenal performance against Chicago.

Pass protection

Mike White was fantastic in his first start of the season, but let’s also give some credit to the offensive line for creating a comfortable environment for him. White rarely had to beat the pressure in this game. While there is no doubt that White was excellent in the situations where he did have to handle some pressure, the offensive line did a great job of keeping those plays to a minimum.

White was pressured on just 10.0% of his dropbacks against the Bears. That was the lowest rate among all qualified quarterbacks in Week 12.

Now, it definitely helped that White averaged only 2.38 seconds from snap to throw, which tied Tom Brady for second-fastest among QBs in Week 12. With that being said, a pressure rate of 10.0% is still incredibly impressive even when accounting for how quickly White was getting the ball out.

Just compare White’s pressure rate to some of the other fastest-throwing quarterbacks in Week 12 – he was pressured much less frequently than other QBs who got the ball out similarly quickly:

  • Trevor Lawrence: 2.35s / 19.0% pressure rate
  • Tom Brady: 2.38s / 17.4% pressure rate
  • Mike White: 2.38s / 10.0% pressure rate
  • Tua Tagovailoa: 2.45s / 32.5% pressure rate
  • Mac Jones: 2.50s / 28.6% pressure rate

To register a pressure rate of 10.0%, the quarterback and the offensive line have to work hand-in-hand. The Jets accomplished that against Chicago.

White always does his part in protecting himself by getting the ball out fast on a high percentage of his plays, but the offensive line was also dominant in situations where they had to hold up for an extended period of time. If the Jets can continue achieving this combination going forward, their passing attack is going to be very successful.

I thought the majority of the offensive line played great football in pass protection. Nate Herbig was the only player who I thought looked a little shaky; he was credited for 2 pressures allowed and there were a few other questionable reps. Connor McGovern also allowed a sack, although that seemed to be his only blemish. Other than that, I liked how the group looked. Duane Brown, Laken Tomlinson, and Max Mitchell were sturdy, each being credited with zero pressures allowed.

Mitchell looked especially impressive.

Cedric Ogbuehi actually started this game at right tackle despite the return of Mitchell, who was starting at right tackle to begin the season. But Ogbuehi left the game with a groin injury following only 9 offensive snaps, paving the way for Mitchell to play the remaining 54 snaps at right tackle.

I’m curious as to why the Jets decided not to start Mitchell because the rookie looked sharp once he got in there. On many of the Jets’ best passing plays, you could see No. 61 holding strong in his one-on-one matchup to help create a cushy pocket for White.

Run blocking

The Jets had a solid day on the ground, rushing for 156 yards on 29 carries (5.4 yards per carry) after taking out White’s rush attempts.

Plenty of credit is due to the Jets’ running backs for having great individual performances. Zonovan Knight led all NFL running backs in Week 12 with 9 missed tackles forced. Ty Johnson‘s 32-yard touchdown was a remarkable effort as he churned through multiple tackle attempts.

Still, the offensive line played its part to set the running backs up for success.

New York’s running backs gained 48 yards before contact across their 25 carries. That is an average of 1.92 yards before contact per carry, which ranked sixth-best out of 32 running back units in Week 12.

McGovern had a masterful day in the run game. His run-blocking talent is one of the most underappreciated individual skills on the Jets’ roster and this particular game was a highlight reel of the stuff that makes him so sneakily good.

McGovern is a tremendous athlete who excels at hook/reach blocks in which he must cross the face of a defensive lineman. These blocks are extremely difficult to execute, yet they are essential in a wide-zone run scheme. Without a center who can do the things that McGovern can, it’s easy to imagine this Jets run game being significantly worse.

Corey Davis was another standout in this game. The Jets’ run game was boosted by Davis’s return, just as we expected.

Davis was not the only standout at the skill positions. Tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah had themselves a day in the blocking game, too. Not only were they good, but they were passionate, and it’s hard not to love that.

Let’s not forget about Denzel Mims, who had a key block on Johnson’s long touchdown. Mims might not be as consistent of a blocker as Davis, but he still has plenty of good moments on his film. Brown, Tomlinson, and McGovern also have important blocks here, and Johnson does an amazing job of powering through contact.

As great as this blocking performance was from the Jets’ offense, it is important to take it with a grain of salt. Chicago’s defensive line is abysmal. The Bears are ranked last in quarterback hits (34), last in sacks (16), 26th in pressure rate (19.1%), and 28th in run defense DVOA. New York should dominate this team – and credit is due to them for accomplishing just that.

This week, the Jets will face a Minnesota Vikings team that boasts a middle-of-the-pack defensive front. Minnesota is ranked 14th in sacks (29), 26th in quarterback hits (53), 24th in pressure rate (19.6%), and 16th in run defense DVOA.

It will be a good measuring stick game for a Jets offensive line that is nearing full health. Succeeding against this mediocre Vikings defensive front would be a sign that the current iteration of New York’s offensive line is, at the very least, an above-average unit.

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Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 year ago

“Tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah had themselves a day in the blocking game, too. Not only were they good, but they were passionate, and it’s hard not to love that.” Thanks for pointing this out. I see this from Uzomah a lot. He loves what he does in the running game. I see this TE duo only getting better as time goes on.

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 year ago

I will say that Mims has come into the fold. Going from 0 usage by the offence in the beginning of the season to where he is contributing almost every game shows that he has worked on getting better at what the Jets have asked him to do. Although I’m not the biggest fan of his blocking. He is tall enough to block smaller CB’s and gain leverage. If he can hone in on his blocking skills and put on some muscle in the offseason, maybe coming in at around 220 then he will be a key cog for the blocking game next season.

1 year ago

…always impressed with MNania’s OL assessments and his understanding of the technical aspects of linemen. That’s next level stuff, I like it. My thoughts: McGovern has been so solid and crucial for us this year, given all the turnover on the OL. Becoming one of my favs.