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Can the Jets Work Around Their Offensive Line?

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

It would be inaccurate to say the Jets have made no investment in their offensive line. According to Over the Cap, no team will dedicate more of its cap space to the men in the trenches. Unfortunately, the money has not been spent particularly well. The Jets have a Pro Bowl caliber center. They have a quality starting left tackle. Then they have a bunch of pieces ranging from unproven to known mediocrities. Can this offense function at a high level without great play up front?

There are still opportunities to add pieces to improve the offense, but there are two pieces in place that can to some extent help the Jets work around their deficiencies on the offensive line.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not exactly a quarterback a team can build around over the long haul. He isn't even really much of an upgrade over Geno Smith. At this point, barring an improvement from Smith over the offseason, he probably is a little bit better because he has a few skills that fit Chan Gailey's offense. When he played under Gailey in Buffalo, he was able to make presnap reads and get the ball out quickly.

Playing under Gailey in 2011, Fitzpatrick averaged 2.50 seconds from the snap to his passes. That was third quickest in the league. In 2012, he was at 2.61. That was eighth quickest.  One way to prevent an offensive line from becoming an issue is to throw the ball quickly after the snap. The quicker the pass, the less time the defense has to get to the quarterback. That means the offensive line has to do less work.

The Jets also have a top back who can create yardage on his own. Two years ago, Chris Ivory led the league with an average of 3.01 yards per rush after contact. Last season, he finished fourth in the league with 52 missed tackles forced on run plays. The three ahead of Ivory were Marshawn Lynch, DeMarco Murray, and Le'Veon Bell.

So are the Jets set? Can an offense really be set based on a foundation of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory? These are pieces that can help compensate for an offensive line, but these two alone are not enough to turn the Jets into a productive offense. Fitzpatrick doesn't have the build of Ben Roethlisberger to break tackles from pass rushers or Aaron Rodgers' awareness and athleticism to extend plays. He got the ball out quickly in Buffalo, but his struggles pushing the ball down the field limited his effectiveness.

Ivory might be a physical runner, but his inability to contribute in the passing game is the reason people don't think of him like Lynch, Murray, or Bell.

The Jets do have the start of an offense that can work around suspect line play, but they need more. Maybe they can add another back in the Draft. They could also make the point moot by just strengthening the offensive line.