The offensive line for the New York Jets was atrocious in 2020. This is nothing new for fans, who have been waiting for a decent offensive line for nearly 10 years. Fans might remember Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, but those days are unfortunately long gone. Once they retired, the front office essentially ignored the offensive line for a decade. However, things seem to be looking good for the near future. Joe Douglas and the new management has started to improve it little by little. Here is the New York Jets Position Preview Series #5: Offensive Line.
Tough 2020 Season
Mekhi Becton was selected at #11 in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he was instantly hyped up as the savior of the Jets offensive line. He played pretty well, but the rest of the line really didn’t come close to him. George Fant was average, but the Jets are reportedly close to signing Morgan Moses. Moses would automatically start, and any depth for this line is welcome. Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis were brought in during Free Agency before the 2020 season to start at each Guard spot, but they proved to be liabilities in the run and pass game. It became so bad, the Jets signed Pat Elflein from the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. Connor McGovern spent the season at Center, but he was also below average. Lots of change will be needed to make this one of the best lines again, but the Jets are well on their way.
The New D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold
D’Brickashaw Ferguson was a three-time Pro Bowler for the Jets, and the Jets hope that 2020 First round pick Mekhi Becton will elevate to that level as well. As mentioned before, Becton played well in games that he played in last year. However, injury problems have kept him off the field a decent amount. Becton only missed two games in 2020, but was a constant on the injury report and often missed practices because of minor injuries. In 2021, the Jets drafted another offensive lineman in Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC. He will slot in at Left Guard most likely, an instant upgrade from Alex Lewis. Vera-Tucker is a fast and capable pass and run blocker. This will hopefully shore up the entire left side of the Offensive Line, and that would mean three out of five starters are capable, along with George Fant. With a new and improved (and young) offensive line, the offense should look a little better, unlocking the run game and Zach Wilson.
The Difference Between a Good and Bad Line
Ezekiel Elliot was one of the best Running Backs in the NFL in 2016, rushing for 1,600 yards behind one of the best offensive lines in NFL history. In 2020, Elliot ran for under 1,000 yards. His offensive line was significantly worse, and with less holes to run through, he couldn’t find similar success. The Cowboys difference in success for those seasons were significantly different, but that could also be contributed to Dak Prescott’s season ending injury in 2020. Also, while this is just one example, it is relevant as the Jets do not have a Running back on the roster equal to Elliot’s talent level. They will need to open some holes for Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman, and hopefully they will.
The Jets, with Morgan Moses now sliding in opposite Becton, now have completed 60% of their offensive line rebuild. Alijah Vera-Tucker should also be a quality player from day one, and it leaves center and right guard as potential upgrade spots for the future. Joe Douglas has done great work so far, but he has some work left to do.
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