One week after being dominated against a talented Cowboys defense, the New York Jets came into Sunday in a must-win situation. Facing a win-less New England Patriots, the Jets looked to beat Belichick for the first time in 2015. Unfortunately, New York failed to capitalize, losing to New England 15-10. A strong defensive performance was held down by a lackluster game on offense. Another uninspiring performance from Zach Wilson was tough to stomach for this fan base. The team lost Duane Brown to the injured reserve. The running game failed to collect more than 50 rushing yards. The play-calling from Nathaniel Hackett was also lackadaisical.
While in dire straits, hope wasn’t empty. The team’s defense did a great job holding New England to under 20 points and allowed only one touchdown. One positive from the offense was a change to the offensive line. A late-week injury to Duane Brown forced him into the Injured reserve list. In his absence, Mekhi Becton has surfaced as the team’s new left tackle. In his place, fellow first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker will move to right tackle. Rounding out the offensive line, Joe Tippmann started at right guard. While it wasn’t pretty, the new line has given hope for better pass protection as the year goes on.
The Jets Offensive Line Change Shows Promise
Within all the excitement of the newsworthy off-season, the offensive line remained a concern. After Aaron Rodgers’ injury, fans were ready to send Duane Brown home after the blindside sack. Duane Brown is 38 years old and coming off an injury-filled season. Watching have to face Micah Parsons in Dallas the following week was brutal to witness. Brown was added to the Jets injured reserve list on Saturday after sustaining a hip injury. As a result, Hackett and the offense have a four-game audition to assemble a new offensive line.
New Offensive Line after Duane Brown’s injury
From left tackle to right tackle, New York started Mekhi Becton, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, Joe Tippmann, and Alijah Vera-Tucker. Although New York produced just over 200 total yards on offense, that’s not the offensive line’s fault. Although Zach Wilson was sacked twice(including a fourth-quarter safety), the offensive line gave Zach Wilson time in the pocket. The second-overall pick just couldn’t produce when needed. Zach Wilson threw 36 times but only had 18 completions. His inconsistency stems from his failure to get the ball out of his hands fast enough. They failed to open up the field in the passing game until the third quarter. A solid drive in the fourth quarter led to the team’s only touchdown of the game. The offensive line created a hole just big enough for Nick Bawden to find the end zone on the one-yard line.
Becton and Vera-Tucker looked like the first-round picks fans were excited for when they arrived in 2020 & 2021. Laken Tomlinson continued to disappoint since arriving in 2022 and Connor McGovern was serviceable. Of all the starters, rookie Joe Tippmann was the most impressive of the night. The second-round pick out of Wisconsin is finally seeing the field after limited playing time the first two weeks. He was able to help Dalvin Cook some yards by creating some running lanes. This is a promising start for the long-term center of the future. Should the offensive line put forth an outing close to this, with competent quarterback play, the offense could turn it around with consistency.
Main Photo: [Danielle Parhizkaran]- USA Today Sports