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The Joe Tippmann game that showed Jets he can be a star center

Joe Tippmann, NY Jets, Film Breakdown, Center
Joe Tippmann, New York Jets, Getty Images

John Schmitt, Joe Fields, Kevin Mawae, Nick Mangold… Joe Tippmann?

In the land of New York Jets football, elite centers are synonymous with team success. The Jets have never won a playoff game without a multi-time All-Pro at center. All 12 of the franchise’s playoff victories featured a starting center who finished his career with multiple Associated Press All-Pro appearances:

  • John Schmitt (114 starts with NYJ from 1964-73): 2x second-team All-Pro – 2 NYJ playoff wins (1968)
  • Joe Fields (155 starts with NYJ from 1975-87): 2x second-team All-Pro, 1x first-team All-Pro – 3 NYJ playoff wins (1982, 1986)
  • Kevin Mawae (118 starts with NYJ from 1998-05): 3x first-team All-Pro, 4x second-team All-Pro – 3 NYJ playoff wins (1998, 2002, 2004)
  • Nick Mangold (164 starts with NYJ from 2006-16): 2x first-team All-Pro, 1x second-team All-Pro – 4 NYJ playoff wins (2009, 2010)

In fact, the Jets have only made one playoff appearance in franchise history without one of these four players on the team, coming in 1991 with Jim Sweeney at center. That team went 8-8 before getting bounced in the first round.

Bottom line: The New York Jets organization has yet to accomplish anything of note without a star center on the team.

Could Joe Tippmann finally give New York the next franchise center it has been waiting for?

Tippmann enjoyed a promising rookie season in which he played well enough to lock down the starting center job going into 2024. While he had some ups and downs, Tippmann ultimately performed like a league-average starting center. That is a tremendous jumping-off point for a rookie starter who had to deal with revolving doors at quarterback and each of the other four offensive line positions. With further development, the second-round pick could develop into one of the league’s top centers.

Late in Tippmann’s rookie year, there was one particular performance that gave New York a glimpse of the player Tippmann could become in the future. For the first time since Nick Mangold was snapping the rock, the Jets saw flashes of elite center play.

That performance was Tippmann’s Week 16 game against the Washington Commanders. Tippmann made his presence felt all game long, serving as one of the most important cogs in a 30-28 Jets win.

In pass protection, Tippmann was asked to handle an extremely heavy workload as the Jets ran 55 passing plays. Tippmann rose to the challenge, finishing the game with zero pressures allowed. It set a new Jets record (since 2006) for the most pass-blocking snaps without allowing a pressure by a rookie offensive lineman. It was also the second-most pass-blocking snaps without allowing a pressure by a rookie lineman in the entire NFL during the 2023 season.

Let’s take a look at some of Tippmann’s best reps from his dominant pass-blocking performance against Washington.

Joe Tippmann film vs. Commanders

Tippmann slides right, absorbs the bull rush, anchors, and prevents any pressure on Trevor Siemian. Nice hand placement as Tippmann gets his right hand squarely into the defender’s chest. Though Tippmann stands extraordinarily tall for a center at 6-foot-6, you can see here that he still plays with good leverage despite his high stature. Tippmann stays square, gets ideal knee bend, tucks his elbows, and doesn’t over-extend himself as he punches. It all allows him to make solid contact on the defender without compromising his body positioning.

Tippmann, right guard Jake Hanson, and right tackle Carter Warren handle this stunt from Washington with ease. The Jets have had problems blocking stunts in recent years, and it was something that center Connor McGovern particularly struggled with. It’s promising to see Tippmann taking care of these as a rookie, even with a makeshift unit around him.

Another good stunt pickup from Tippmann. He passes the first defender off to Laken Tomlinson and makes sure Tomlinson has control of the block before coming off of it. Then, Tippmann comes back inside and picks up the looping defender.

Tippmann does a good job of assessing threats here. First, he makes sure the linebacker isn’t blitzing. In the meantime, he extends his right hand to feel if the DT to that side is coming toward him. With the LB dropping and the DT rushing outside, Tippmann decides to slide left and help Tomlinson, whose defender is rushing inside. The defender has Tomlinson beat and is on his way into the backfield, but Tippmann halts him.

Tippmann begins this rep by double-teaming the A-gap defender to sell the play-action. In the midst of doing so, he keeps his eyes pointed left to see if he’s needed to provide help. Tippmann sees Tomlinson get beat inside with a swim move, so he comes off the double team to help Tomlinson. Tippmann eats up the defender before he can create pressure, bailing out Tomlinson once again.

Man, Tomlinson really did not make Tippmann’s life easy. Tippmann tries to work a double team with Tomlinson here, but Tomlinson doesn’t provide much of anything as he botches two consecutive attempts to establish a grip with his inside hand. This essentially leaves Tippmann in a one-on-one.

The defender tries to convert into a bull rush on Tippmann, and he’s in an advantageous position to do so since Tippmann is only blocking with his inside half (since it’s a double team). The defender initially gets some push on Tippmann, but Tippmann recovers excellently thanks to the grip he established on the defender’s chest using his outside hand. This allows Tippmann to control the defender’s momentum and work him away from the quarterback, halting his bull rush.

This is the closest thing we’ve seen to a one-on-one so far. The defender goes with a quick bull rush and Tippmann absorbs it pretty easily.

The rookie bails out the vet once again. Tippmann starts the play sliding right, picking up the DT who crashes inside. In the midst of engaging with this defender, Tippmann sees in his peripheral vision that Tomlinson is getting plowed into the QB. Tippmann leaves his man to go help Tomlinson, pushing the defender away from the pocket just milliseconds before he was about to drive Tomlinson directly into Siemian. Even after doing this, Tippmann still picks up his initial defender and halts his rush. Stellar stuff from a rookie center.

Again Tippmann bails out the left side. Washington successfully runs a stunt against Tomlinson and Mekhi Becton. Neither Jet is ready for it, making it an easy win. The DT carries Tomlinson outside, opening up an inside lane. The EDGE easily beats Becton to get inside. Luckily, while double-teaming to his right, Tippmann is watching the left side the entire time. So, the moment Tippmann sees that Becton has lost, he comes over to help. Tippmann arrives just in time to drive the rusher out of his clear path to the QB.

Another clean stunt pickup from Tippmann and Hanson.

A stud pass-blocking center could change everything for the Jets

Based on both the Jets’ franchise history and recent NFL history, it’s clear that great centers can be major cogs in facilitating success. Creed Humphrey has been a beast for the Chiefs across their past two championship-winning seasons. Jason Kelce was the heart and soul of two Super Bowl-bound Eagles teams. Ryan Jensen established the nasty mentality that helped Tampa Bay win it all in 2020. He might not have the accolades, but David Andrews has been one of the league’s most productive centers since 2015, helping New England win two Super Bowls in that span.

Tippmann doesn’t necessarily have to be an All-Pro like the Jets legends before him. That’s an absurdly high bar to hold him to, especially as we sit here in May 2024 while Tippmann is still just 23 years old. Mangold wasn’t named an All-Pro until his fourth season; Mawae, his fifth. Perhaps Tippmann can get there one day, but for now, “good” is a reasonable expectation for Tippmann.

And that’s all the Jets need right now. Tippmann will actually have quality players around him this year (assuming health). In the clips above, it was the 22-year-old Tippmann who constantly had to bail out the Jets’ $40 million left guard, not the other way around. To his right was a former sixth-round pick who entered 2023 with one career start in three seasons. Despite it all, Tippmann showed in the Washington game that he can carry the Jets’ offensive line to success no matter who is around him. That is the making of a star player.

But with better talent around him in 2024, Tippmann doesn’t have to be a star to play his part in making this the best Jets offensive line in well over a decade. If he can be a top-10 center, the Jets’ offensive line (and entire offense) will be in excellent shape. With the team they have in place, it’s just a quality center that the Jets need to win playoff games, not necessarily an All-Pro.

Down the line, though, don’t rule out Tippmann as a candidate to join Schmitt, Fields, Mawae, and Mangold in the pantheon of All-Pro Jets centers. His performance against Washington was a sneak peek into the potential greatness that could lie in his future.

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Jets71
Jets71
19 days ago

Sweeney was good too.

Robby Sabo
Admin
17 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

Versatile as well, if my memory serves me correctly (multiple positions). Mainly center, I think, but perhaps some guard time also.

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