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The Jets Biggest Issue Is Their Offensive Line

For the majority of the preseason we’ve heard it’s all about Ryan Fitzpatrick. The season rides on him. That’s partially true. We hear they have one of the best receiving cores, and a great defense and a solid running game but nobody addresses the state of the offensive line. Why? Pro Football Focus has them ranked 26th! 22nd in pass blocking and 25th in run blocking. Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have their work cut out for them. They may not have a chance to go downfield to get open. They may get just past one Mississippi before Fitzpatrick has to run for his life and get rid of the ball!

For the last two seasons the Jets have waited until the 5th round to try and repair their rapidly aging offensive line. If newly acquired LT Ryan Clady has a bad game, so will Fitzpatrick. He’s 30. Can he fill the void that D’Brickashaw Ferguson left by retiring? That’s the biggest question that we’ll start to find out about when the Jets open up against the Bengals this Sunday at 1PM. Clady has missed a lot of games in the past three seasons. His backup is likely Ben Ijalana unless he wins the RT spot because the only other experienced tackle, Breno Giacomini is on the PUP list and out for at least 7 weeks. Brent Qvale is the likely RT starter and he’s started 1 game in his brief NFL career. Ijalana has played in 7 games since 2011 and he’s never started for obvious reasons. This is the Jets weak underbelly. This has gotten the least amount of coverage in training camp and through the preseason.

Ask Ken O’Brien what its like to have a lousy offensive line? Nick Mangold aside, because he’s still great when healthy, he was sacked 62 times in his first season as a starter. Fitzpatrick was only sacked 19 times last season. That’s going to change. He does get rid of the ball quickly and reads the defenses pretty well, and yet I still think he’ll be sacked around 40 times this season. He’ll have to overcome that to win some games against some of the tougher teams on their schedule.

Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz may take the kind of beating that O’Brien took in his rookie season because of a mediocre offensive line as well. Teams love to talk about the quarterback and defense and the offensive line gets largely ignored in a lot of conversations. Meadowlark Lemon told me a few months before his death teams need to build up the line first and then bring in the quarterback. He’s right and yet many still don’t do it.

The Jets have the look of an 8-8 team unless the line can hold up or the defense can score some points. This is my best guess. I hope I’m wrong.

Around the NFL

Could anybody have predicted Dak Prescott would be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys? Or Trevor Siemian starting for the defending champs in Denver? I can’t recall an offseason this crazy. Sam Bradford was pegged to be the Eagles starter until Teddy Bridgewater went down. Now he’s the Vikings starter.

One More Note

You’ll be an official die-hard if you watch the second Monday Night Football game between the Rams and 49ers. #1 overall pick, quarterback Jared Goff (3rd on the depth chart) will be riding the pine as the hope of this new version of the Rams and many will tune in to see what Colin Kaepernick will do next. This game has the ability to be a snoozefest. It’ll start at 10:20 ET.

photo by Lynda Wagner

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