new york jets Has wisely invested draft assets and money in his offensive line, GM Joe Douglas spent on two big guys in the first round (Mekhi Becton, alijah vera tucker) during the last four years. New York signed tackle duane brown for three years and $34.5 million in 2022. and the jets drafted center Joe Tipman In the second round this year.
And yet, there is quite legitimate concern that this may not be enough.
Quarterback aaron rodgers is 39 years old. He still has incredible arm talent, but he is no longer the mobile quarterback he used to be. He will need sound safety in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense, especially with one of the top check-down options, slot receiver corey davisHave decided to retire.
The Jets have one goal in 2023: to win the Super Bowl. They have the requisite talent to accomplish that goal. But if there is one Achilles heel on their roster, it is at offensive tackle.
On paper, the Jets’ starting tackles are just as talented as players at other premium positions. Brown and Becton are outstanding players – when on the field. they are comparable to defensive tackles quinnan williamscornerback sauce gardner And Dj Reedand receiver Garrett Wilson, Rodgers, the most important running back in the league, is in a league of his own.
That’s exactly what you want: elite players in the most important positions.
The problem throughout training camp has been that the Jets haven’t been able to have both of their tackles on the field due to persistent injuries. That finally changed on Wednesday, when Brown came off the physically unable to perform list after recovering from rotator cuff surgery this offseason.
Meanwhile, Becton has been limited to a snap count for most of camp due to his return from a knee injury. It’s been a strange career for Becton, the 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft. He has played in only 15 games overall and has not played in a regular season game since the first week of the 2021 season.
The situation is on the upswing. But it is far from resolved.
Becton will start in the team’s third preseason game, a sign that he is ready to start at right tackle for Week 1. He still seemed pleased with the feat, tweeting in May that “I.M.A. LEFT. TACKLE!!!” ,
“It’s like playing in a completely new position,” Becton said Tuesday. “It’s not as easy as people think, just switching from one side to the other. Once you get down and get your landmarks, it’s almost the same position. But from the beginning, it’s a little It is difficult.”
Seeing Becton back in the starting lineup would be a tremendous feel-good story. When it is effective and healthy, it is a pleasure to watch. We saw it in the second week of the preseason, when he played 28 snaps and recorded a PFF grade of 85, the highest on offense.
“He’s very talented,” Rodgers told reporters. “He’s huge and he’s athletic for a guy 6-8 and 350. So I’m excited to have him out there. He’s a big teddy bear on the inside. I’m enjoying getting to know him. He’s a fierce competitor.” He’s on the field, and I’m excited to have him there.”
Becton’s position has been unique. The team apparently had to convince him that right tackle was a good place for him, given his outbursts on social media. He had to overcome the doubt and pressure of being picked in the first round due to injuries – and the social media trolls who relentlessly harassed him. Becton said in an interview last year, “You have a lot of people talking about you, saying little things about you. I’m trying not to let the words get to me.”
He has come a long way and to be honest he still has a long way to go.
“The best thing that happened to me in the last few years is my son,” Becton said this week. “That’s it. That’s why I keep driving and trying to get where I am and never give up.”
Has he told his son yet that he is starting week one?
“I mean, he’s 1. He doesn’t really understand. He’ll know in a year or two.”
I am not crying nor am I laughing. You are crying and laughing.
Given Becton’s injury history, the Jets have been extremely diligent about managing his recovery, especially because he said in 2022 that he felt it was more likely that playing right tackle would aggravate his right knee. Will go
Rodgers told reporters, “I love Mekhi. I think he’s a guy who, like all of us, wants to feel like we belong.” “Whether of his own accord or the way things fell through, I think he might not have felt that way. It’s normal when you’re on injured reserve. I’ve been there a few times; it’s a tough place because you Feel isolated from the team.”
There’s a lot to manage with Becton. And it will all be worth it if he stays healthy. Because that’s really all he needs to play at a high level. There’s almost no doubt that whenever he’s on the field – right tackle or left – he’ll be a high performer.
But that’s just uncertainty over one of two tackle spots. The questions extend beyond Becton’s physical health, mental health and performance on the field. There’s also the case for bringing Brown back into the mix at left tackle. He has yet to fully practice with his teammates this year.
He is 38 years old. He is going to have shoulder surgery. The team does not have any capable backups for Brown or Becton. tackle billy turner And max mitchell Brown’s absence has instilled zero confidence in him playing with the first team. He played so poorly that coach Robert Saleh didn’t rule out the team trying out the guard. Eliza Vera-Tucker on the tackle.
He does not shout: we have everything under control. Without a legitimate backup, Brown’s injury and age should be a cause for concern. It should not happen?
“No, he doesn’t,” Saleh said of Brown. “It seems like whatever water they put in these days, football players are somehow able to last a while. I needed that water when I was younger, but no, the way he prepares Yes, I mean you guys see him every day. The guy is so conscious and deliberate about working on his body day and night. So I’m not expecting any hindrance because of his age.”
Brown tore his rotator cuff during the season and played through it – still logging a respectable PFF grade of 57.8, while allowing only one sack and 23 pressures in 12 games played.
But, to be honest, I still have a lot of questions about this unit.
Can Brown play at a high level throughout the season? What can Becton do? We’ve never seen Becton play a full NFL season.
Can they stay healthy? What if one of the starters goes down?
The Jets could start by seeing whether Mitchell or Turner — or even a rookie carter warren – loot. But he may have to get more creative by putting Vera-Tucker in a position where he has neither played nor practiced much.
With the acquisition of Rodgers, dalvin cook And allen lazard, the Jets are ready to engage in a white-knuckle, tense race for the playoffs. Offensive-line play only escalates the tension. Because if there’s one position that could sink the Jets, it’s offensive tackle.
Prior to joining Fox Sports as an AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA Today Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. follow him on twitter @henrycmckenna,
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