In the NFL, one of the most important yet unsung components of any football team is the offensive line. Very few teams have been able to win in January without at least a competent set of blockers in the trenches. The New York Jets face a rebuilding phase, and nowhere is it more apparent than the offensive line. Let’s look at what they’ve done to remedy their issues on the line so far.
The Jets’ offensive line play from 2018
Last year, with new franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, the Jets struggled mightily, going 4-12. The performance cost head coach, Todd Bowles, his job. It also paved the way for former Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase to assume the role in 2019.
In an all-around tough season, the Jets’ offensive line did them no favors as they rushed for only 1,622 yards. This ranked them 26th out of 32 NFL teams. New York’s leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell, only had 622 yards on the ground. They also allowed 37 sacks for a sack percentage of 6.6%. Heading into 2019, here’s the Jets’ depth chart for the offensive line:
- Left guard: Kelvin Beachum, Chuma Edoga, Eric Smith
- Left tackle: Kelechi Osemele, Tom Compton, Ben Braden
- Center: Jonotthan Harrison, Jon Toth
- Right guard: Brian Winters, Brent Qvale, Jordan Morgan
- Right tackle: Brandon Shell, Chuma Edoga, Brent Qvale
Jet’s key additions that may improve the offensive line
The Jets’ flashiest signing wasn’t an offensive lineman. But running back Le’Veon Bell may make their jobs much easier. While New York will need better blocking to give Bell a chance at success, having a running back of his caliber can certainly lighten the load on the line. He’s able to hit holes quicker than the average running back.
As far as the offensive line itself, the Jets made two big additions. The first was in free agency, adding former Baltimore Raven and Oakland Raider Kelechi Osemele. He looks to be a difference-maker on the o-line, according to the Jets:
Osemele was a Pro Bowl performer in 2016 and ’17, but toe and knee injuries limited him to 11 games last season. After a ketogenic diet and some intermittent fasting, Osemele arrived in New York in excellent shape and with a monstrous chip on his shoulder.
The team also used its third-round pick to select USC tackle Chuma Edoga to provide the starters with some much-needed depth.
How the offensive line will fare in 2019
The Jets added a few solid pieces on the offensive line, along with one of the league’s best rushers to run behind them. But another addition could lead them to further improvement: new offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
Brought on by new head coach Adam Gase, Pollack previously coached offensive lines in Cincinnati, Dallas, Oakland, and Houston. There’s a reason Pollack may be able to turn this unit around, according to JetNation.com:
In his last year with the Cowboys, they ranked 3rd in yards averaged per rush with 4.52. In 2016, Dallas was awarded Offensive Line of the Year … Prior to his time in Dallas, he worked in Oakland as the offensive line coach, where the Raiders passing offense was ranked 8th in 2012.
With a change in leadership and some new talent, the Jets’ offensive line may see much-improved play in 2019. Only time will tell.