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Breaking Down the Jets Offensive Line in the First Half at Detroit

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The Jets offensive line has been under a lot of scrutiny, but who is most responsible for the struggles?

NFL: New York Jets at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of quarterback, the Jets unit that has probably taken the most heat this offseason has been the offensive line. Practice after practice, the reports come out with the eye-popping sack numbers, and when the games come on, their struggles become clear.

Here, I’ll give a quick breakdown of each Jets offensive play in the first half and try to assign responsibility to individuals on the offensive line for poor plays, while also recognizing those who made impact plays. Skill position players will be mentioned when they have a role, but will not be assigned credit for their mistakes.

There will be four stats assigned; pressures, hits, sacks, and runs for 3 yards or less responsible for. If there is a time when more than one player is responsible for a specific occurrence, the blame will be split among those responsible. Also keep in mind that pressures, hits, and sacks are being counted separately. A sack allowed does not also count as the other two, and vice versa.

The starting offensive line: LT Ijalana, LG Carpenter, C Harrison, RG Winters, RT Qvale. Here we go.

First Drive

Bilal Powell 2 yard run:

Miscommunication between Carpenter and Harrison leads to free runner who stops Powell for short gain. It seems like Harrison expected to take the man Carpenter attempted to block, as he just floats around blocking nobody.

Carpenter/Harrison: 0.5 short runs allowed

Bilal Powell 1 yard run:

Bradon Shell gets pushed back and his man gets the tackle, but Brian Winters lost his matchup badly and forced Powell to cut outside into eventual tackle.

Winters/Shell: 0.5 short runs allowed

Hackenberg sacked by Washington and fumble:

Miscommunication likely on Hackenberg leaves free blitzer that Bilal Powell was likely supposed to pick up to get the sack, but Ben Ijalana also gets smoked at left tackle, allowing his man to give Hackenberg an extra beating and would-be sack if not for the miscommunication, so we'll give him credit for a QB hit allowed.

Ijalana: 1.0 quarterback hit allowed

Second Drive

Bilal Powell 5 yard run:

Brandon Shell and James Carpenter contribute solid blocks to give Powell some room.

Hackenberg pass incomplete deep intended for Anderson:

Detroit gets penetration but entire line holds up and gives Hack mostly clean pocket to throw from.

Hackenberg pass incomplete intended for Peake:

The line keeps Hack clean for a quick pass against a 4-man rush, but Carpenter does get pushed back a bit and his man nearly gets a hand on the pass.

Third Drive

Hackenberg sacked by Spence:

Winters gets smoked with an inside swim move to allow Hack to take the sack, who shows no awareness to the pass rush as he locks on to his first read. He had plenty of room to roll out if he was aware on this play. Ijalana also gets beat on the left side with a pressure that threw Hack off of his stance and likely would have forced Hack out of the pocket or into another sack if he wasn't sacked so quickly.

Winters: 1.0 sack allowed, Ijalana: 1.0 pressure allowed

Powell 2 yard run:

This play was blocked well other than Winters and Harrison looking to block the same man, leaving a free defender to pick up the tackle for a short gain. Both initially looked to block the DT before moving on to the LB at the next level. It looked like they discussed it afterwards.

Winters/Harrison: 0.5 short run allowed

Powell 10 yard run:

The Lions rush three on 3rd & 13. Austin Seferian-Jenkins seals off the left edge. Harrison takes his man out of the play in the middle while Winters pulls out from right guard to lead Powell and create space at the second level. Powell does the rest to earn an extra 2-3 yards.

Fourth Drive

Kelvin Beachum in at LT, Wesley Johnson in at C, Brent Qvale in at RT

Powell run for no gain:

Looks like another miscommunication. The line slides to the right and Carpenter looks to take the same man as Wesley Johnson, leaving two free defenders to take Powell rather than leaving him in a 1-on-1 situation he could’ve won for a big play. They’ll share the blame here.

Carpenter/Johnson: 0.5 short run allowed

Hackenberg pass incomplete intended for Seferian-Jenkins:

This looks like a designed rollout after the play action for Hackenberg. He has plenty of room to make his quick throw at the receiver's feet.

Hackenberg 12 yard run:

The pocket collapses on Hackenberg. The main culprit is Kelvin Beachum, who lets his man peel off of him and run free to Hack up the middle, forcing him to scramble. The reason this was a gain and not a sack is Powell, who makes a really nice pickup on the edge rusher.

Beachum: 1.0 pressure allowed

Hackenberg 17 yard pass to Powell:

The line holds up very well against a 4-man rush to give Hackenberg plenty of time to find Powell with room to run.

Powell run for -1 yards:

Blame is tough to hand out on this one. Winters and Johnson made good pushes initially, but the lane Powell chooses is shut down quickly as both Carpenter and Qvale are driven back, allowing the safety to run in and make the stop. Winters also let his man get involved in the tackle after his good initial push, taking away Powell’s chance to make anything happen. These three will share the blame.

Winters/Carpenter/Qvale: 0.3 short run allowed

Powell run for 3 yards:

Beachum and Carpenter make strong blocks to open up Powell's lane on the left side, while Jalin Marshall and Seferian-Jenkins do an OK job holding their matchups on the left edge. This could've been a 5 yard gain or more before the lane gets closed when Johnson slips and fails to join Winters on a double-team, as their man fills the gap and eventually makes the tackle. It's clear by his positioning Winters expected Johnson to help him out on this play, but he flat out slipped, forcing Powell to a more crowded area. Johnson gets the blame here on a play that was otherwise blocked decently.

Johnson: 1.0 short run allowed

Hackenberg pass incomplete:

Detroit only brings four and the line holds up perfectly fine, but Hackenberg just loses the ball as he goes to throw.

Fifth Drive

Hackenberg pass incomplete intended for Anderson:

Carpenter gets called for illegal use of hands. This play didn't count, so we won’t hand out blame other then the penalty, but Beachum did get pushed by his man right into Hackenberg's face as he was throwing.

McGuire run for 3 yards:

Johnson, Winters, and Qvale do a nice job sealing off the right side but Beachum again lets his man beat him inside, shutting down the lane. If Beachum wins his matchup here, McGuire had room for a much bigger play.

Beachum: 1.0 short run allowed

Hackenberg -3 yard pass to Powell:

A designed screen play. Hackenberg makes the throw with a defender bearing down and takes a hit, but this is designed as the three interior linemen hit the second level. Qvale and Beachum are the key protectors here, and they hold the edges giving Hack a clear lane to Powell. Hack hesitates before he throws this ball even though Powell is ready for it, leading him to taking a hit, but he still makes a good pass and Powell has room for a big play. However, Winters takes too long to hit the second level as he spends time getting called for a hold throwing his man to the ground, and the defender he should've taken is free to make the tackle behind the line. This was a good play by the defender and Hack’s throw was a bit late, but as for the O-line, this was a poor play from Winters.

Winters: 1.0 short run allowed

Powell run for 10 yards

Draw play. Winters and Carpenter both make good blocks to give Powell room to get good yardage back on 3rd & 20.

Runs for 3 Yards or Less Responsible For:

Winters - 2.3 (4 plays)

Johnson - 1.5 (2 plays)

Carpenter - 1.3 (3 plays)

Harrison - 1.0 (2 plays)

Beachum - 1.0 (1 play)

Shell - 0.5 (1 play)

Qvale - 0.3 (1 play)

Pressures Allowed

Ijalana - 1.0

Beachum - 1.0

Hits Allowed

Ijalana - 1.0

Sacks Allowed

Winters - 1.0

Penalties

Winters - 1

Carpenter - 1

Looking back at the first half, I didn’t think the line was as bad as it seemed. Not good, but not as hopelessly awful as pitched, especially considering the constant rotation and being led by an inexperienced quarterback. A lot of their problems stemmed from communication issues, common in the preseason. As a group they certainly seem to rely more on power than quickness, so if they’re not on the same page they will be eaten up without that special athleticism elite lines have, which is what we’ve seen so far. If they can get their communication sorted out, they could be closer to average than you might have thought.