You can summarize the New York Jets offensive line’s ineptitude with one stat
“It’s gotta be better,” Saleh said of the O-line. “I can give you the ‘woe is me’ card, but we’ve gotta be better.”
In a costly 20-17 loss, the Jets’ offensive line was completely manhandled by a fairly mediocre Detroit defensive line; one that has led the Lions to only 25th in sack rate (5.8%) and 26th in yards per carry allowed (4.9). The dominance of Detroit’s defensive line was clear to anyone watching the game, and that dominance is backed up by the numbers.
Detroit’s defense won the line of scrimmage in both the pass game and the run game. We’ll get to the passing game in a bit, but let’s start with the run game, because that’s where the Lions were particularly overwhelming for the Jets.
One run-blocking stat sums up how atrocious the Jets’ offensive line was on Sunday: New York’s running back gained zero yards before contact.
Knight was dealt a particularly brutal hand. Over 12 carries, the rookie gained 28 yards after contact and -5 yards before contact. Knight often had to work magic just to get back to the line of scrimmage, which is evidenced by the fact he registered an impressive total of four missed tackles forced and still gained only 23 yards in total.
The offensive line’s pass protection was similarly terrible to its run blocking. Zach Wilson was pressured on 47.5% of his dropbacks, which was the highest total of any quarterback in Week 15 (pre-Monday Night Football). Part of that was due to the Jets’ gameplan to throw long-developing deep passes (Wilson ranked 7th-highest with 2.93 seconds from snap to throw), but the pass protection was still poor even after taking that into consideration.
Yes, the Jets’ offensive line has dealt with a rash of injuries this year. But at this point, four of the five starters on the Jets’ offensive line have a contract that averages at least $9 million per year: Duane Brown, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, and George Fant (the exception is Nate Herbig). Nobody is expecting this group to be elite considering its lack of chemistry, but it is too talented to get steamrolled by the NFL’s 31st-ranked scoring defense.
If the Jets are going to right the ship and make a run for the playoffs, this offensive line needs to start playing league-average football at the very least.