Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Lions OL, Stats, Sack
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

You can summarize the New York Jets offensive line’s ineptitude with one stat

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh did not sugarcoat things when speaking about the offensive line’s performance against the Detroit Lions.

“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.

Yes, zero.

Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter combined to run for 38 yards on 17 carries. All 38 of those yards were gained after contact. None were gained 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.

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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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Bird9
Bird9
1 month ago

I wonder how that game would have gone with Mike White. Probably fewer sacks, maybe not the boneheaded pick, possibly fewer deep plays but more short ones. Would that have dissuaded the defense from teeing off on the run?

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

JD has assembled arguably the NFL’s worst OL during his 4y tenure. 150 sacks 2019-2021. Zach, 44 sacks in 13 games last year! OMG. This year, he atrociously penciled in Becton and Fant coming off 2 knee surgeries at tackles with absolutely no veteran depth. What was the thinking there?? They both got hurt (duh), starting a carousel of OL shenanigans. This is enough to get a GM fired, imo, had he not had the greatest draft in history in ’22. He promised to ‘protect Sam’. All he’s done is put all of our qbs in jeopardy and quite possibly permanently scarred their development. JD redeemed his abysmal ’20 draft with this ’22 class, maybe he’ll do the same with the OL in ’23. ‘league-average’ OL would be amazing.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rich
Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
1 month ago
Reply to  Rich

Not JDs fault that we’ve had a rash of injuries on the O line. Confident he will hit it again in the 2023 draft.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago

I said it weeks ago, this team will go as far as this OL will take them, neither QB will be consistently successful with what happened yesterday. They should be able to pick up 2 yards on second and 2 regardless of the formation.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Need 3 starting O lineman if not 4