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Losing in the Trenches

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The NY Jets curious aversion to drafting offensive linemen and running backs.

Kevin Casey

It's often said that football is a game won in the trenches. If so, the Jets drafting strategy has been a recipe for disaster.

Over the last 24 years, spanning 4 different GMs, the Jets have had a total of 26 1st and 21 2nd round draft picks, for a total of 47 picks. That's enough to just about fill out an entire NFL roster. Amongst those 26 1st round picks, only 2 have been used on offensive linemen, none in the last 6 drafts. The Jets have used more 1st round picks on TEs (3) than offensive linemen in those years. The Jets have used a total of 5 1st or 2nd round pucks on offensive linemen in the last 24 years. They've used more 1st and 2nd round picks on WRs (6) and almost as many on QBs (4) during that stretch.

The Jets have used only 2 of those 1st and 2nd round picks in the last 24 years on a RB, the disastrous Blair Thomas and the serviceable LaMont Jordan. In contrast, the Jets have used a whopping 19 picks on defensive linemen and linebackers.

The Jets during the Ryan era have supposedly been a run first, ground and pound team. Yet the Ryan regime has never used a first round pick on either an offensive lineman or a RB. In fact the Jets have not used a 1st or 2nd round pick on a RB since 2001. The Jets have espoused a ground and pound philosophy, yet have studiously avoided drafting accordingly. As a result, the Jets have been left with no viable offensive philosophy at all. The team is currently starting 2 undrafted FAs and 1 sixth rounder on the offensive line, and are using 3rd, 4th and 5th round draft picks in the backfield. With a run first philosophy, that's the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Outside of QB, 2 of the greatest areas of need on this team are RB and OL. Given the team's drafting history, that should come as no surprise. If the game is won in the trenches, then the Jets offense has lost before the opening whistle, hamstrung by a drafting philosophy that directly contradicts everything the team is supposedly trying to accomplish. It's enough to make you wonder, does anyone around here know how to run a football team?