Wes Schweitzer was recently signed by the New York Jets and has starting experience on the OL
That is true for any soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback who cannot move outside the pocket much longer. It is particularly important for Rodgers, whose stats under pressure have been subpar for the last several seasons.
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So far, the Jets have been virtually silent on the offensive line front. They re-signed practice squad lineman Adam Pankey, but that barely registered a blip on the radar screen. They lost Nate Herbig and Dan Feeney in free agency to the Steelers and Dolphins, respectively.
While the team had made some pursuit of Orlando Brown Jr., the top tackle on the market took a deal to be Joe Burrow’s blindside protector in Cincinnati.
The Jets finally made their first offensive line move for a player who is actually likely to make the roster. They signed former Commanders and Falcons interior lineman Wes Schweitzer to a two-year deal worth $5 million total. Though not the big splash fans had hoped for, Schweitzer has extensive starting experience, starting 60 of his 80 career games.
Can Schweitzer be a starter for the Jets?
Schweitzer has played all over the offensive line in his career, getting reps at all five positions. However, his tackle experience is spare, and he is really an interior lineman. His true position is guard, and he can play both on the left and right side. Over the last two seasons, Washington has used him at center, as well.
The Jets value versatility along the offensive line and needed some after Herbig and Feeney both bolted. Furthermore, Schweitzer is currently the only player with center experience on the team’s roster. The signing makes sense from that angle.
One of the concerns about Schweitzer appears to be injuries, specifically over the last two seasons. In 2021-22, he played in only 18 out of a possible 34 games. He missed several games last season with an ankle injury and another nine with a concussion.
This part of the picture isn’t so pretty for the Jets. On a team featuring multiple offensive linemen with injury and health concerns, they’ve just added another one to the bunch.
In 2022, Schweitzer played seven games, five at center and two at guard. Overall, his pressure numbers were abysmal: he gave up a 6.3% pressure rate, which ranked 38th out of 39 qualified centers (min. 200 pass-blocking snaps). For reference, the average among those centers was 3.4%, which means that Schweitzer was nearly double as bad as the average.
Since he played five games at center and two at guard, let’s look at his splits from the two positions, noting the small sample size.
- Guard: 2 pressures allowed on 44 pass block snaps, 4.5% pressure rate (4.3% league average)
- Center: 13 pressures allowed on 194 pass block snaps, 6.7% pressure rate (36th out of 37 centers, min. 220 block snaps, 3.4% league average), 96 pass-blocking efficiency (36th/37)
According to Sports Info Solutions (which does not differentiate between positions but simply gives overall stats while listing the player’s primary position), Schweitzer’s 4.9% blown pass block rate was the worst among centers, while his 1.7% blown run block rate was tied for ninth-best among centers.
It appears that Schweitzer was not a very good center overall, although he was better at avoiding egregious errors in the run game. His pass-blocking at center in 2022 was putrid.
Going back to 2021, Schweitzer had one pass-blocking snap at left tackle, 35 at center, and 210 at guard. He did not qualify as a center, as he had 246 pass-block snaps and the qualifying number for starters was 300 (68 qualifiers). That season, the league-average pressure rate among starting guards was worse than usual at 4.9%.
In Schweitzer’s 210 pass block snaps at guard, he allowed 11 pressures, which is a 5.2% pressure rate. That’s worse than average. However, his pass-blocking efficiency wasn’t quite as bad, ranking 24th out of 80 guards with at least 200 pass-block snaps.
Per SIS, Schweitzer had a 2.2% blown pass block rate, which was tied for 36th among guards, and a 2.0% blown run block rate, tied for 31st.
The last time that Schweitzer was truly a starter was in 2020 when he played in all 16 games for the Falcons and started 13 of them. That season, he was almost exclusively a guard, taking 644 pass-block snaps on both sides of the center.
That year, Schweitzer’s pass-block numbers were just about league average: he had a 4.2% pressure rate allowed, while the average was 4.3%, and he tied for 35th out of 67 guards (min. 300 pass block snaps). His 97.4 pass-block efficiency tied for 32nd.
Per SIS, this was a better year for Schweitzer in terms of blown block rate. He had a 1.6% blown pass block rate, tied for 14th among guards, and a 1.8% blown run block rate, tied for 27th.
For his career, Schweitzer appears to have played almost exclusively guard prior to 2022. He had only two games at center prior. His career pressure rate allowed is 4.7%, which is too high for a guard. His 97.2 career pass-blocking efficiency is slightly below average.
For his career, Schweitzer has a 2.1% blown pass block rate and a 2.4% blown run block rate. Unfortunately, worst pass-blocking season was in 2022, when he blew 4.9% of his pass blocks, primarily from the center position. It appears that center is an emergency-use position for Schweitzer rather than a viable regular one.
Based on Schweitzer’s career numbers, it appears that he is mainly a replacement for Nate Herbig: a bad starter but a quality backup. The idea that he replaces Feeney because he has played at center loses luster when examining just how poorly he played the center position (not that Feeney was any better). If the Jets end up with Schweitzer as their center, they’re in 2022-level hot water on the offensive line.
This was a decent signing for the Jets at a low price. Herbig got $4 million in average annual value to play in Pittsburgh, and the Jets replaced him with a player making $2.5 million AAV.
The Jets still need offensive line help, and it appears increasingly likely that they are tipping their hand regarding their plans for the No. 13 overall pick in the draft. The tackle depth on the free-agent market is currently limited to Isaiah Wynn, a high-upside player coming off a poor, injury-riddled year in New England and who fits right in with the Jets’ current tackles as a wild card.
Furthermore, the team still hasn’t made a real move at center. Their former three-year starter, Connor McGovern, is still out there, but they don’t appear to have an interest in bringing him back. Ex-Titans center Ben Jones is also on the market.
As a depth move, this is a nice add for the Jets. Joe Douglas continues to supplement his favorite position group, but there’s still a long way to go to solidify this offensive line into a quality unit.