Joe Douglas has done a lot of smart business so far this off-season, bringing on a lot of low cost, low risk, high-upside talent. Whether that’s Keelan Cole, Sheldon Rankin or Jarrad Davis. There’s a lot to like about Douglas’s approach to the second tier of free agents after reeling in some big fish in Corey Davis and Carl Lawson.
Some however, may be concerned that one of the biggest areas of weakness from last season is still a big area of weakness.
Outside of signing the mullet man Dan Feeney who has been quite poor over the last few years, the Jets have failed to make any notable additions to the line.
Rumour has it that Joe Douglas wanted Joe Thuney, but understandably lost out to the Chiefs who are likely to be competing for a Super Bowl every year for a while. We then showed a lack of interest in Corey Linsley, with reports surfacing that the Jets didn’t even touch base with his representatives.
So if we haven’t made any upgrades, why should we not be worrying?
Entering the 2020 season, PFF had the Jets offensive line rated as the 27th best in the league, it turned out that was generous. Upon conclusion of the 2020 season the Jets were ranked as the 29th best unit in the league. In short, we were awful.
Here are three reasons why I’m not concerned...yet.
1, The off-season is young and the truth is the free-agent class was top-heavy. Outside of Thuney and then Linsley, there weren’t many players to get excited about. Signing players for the sake of signing players isn’t the way to build a successful franchise. Would you want to sign 32-year-old Kyle Long? I wouldn’t. Gabe Jackson probably makes us a little bit better, but I’m not sold that he’s not on the decline, and paying for a players decline isn’t ideal.
2. The system. The outsize zone running scheme we’re going to utilise is more suited to the players we have available, in particular, it’s going to improve Connor McGovern and George Fant. Lateral agility and movement is the name of the game and both of those will be vastly improved in that scheme. Let's not forget that McGovern in 2019 allowed just 1 sack on over 1,000 snaps. GVR has historically been good in pass protection (1 sack in 2019) and the zone scheme should hide some of his issues in run-blocking. We talk about Darnold and how the coaching he received was poor and contributed to his troubles, well we need to extend that to other players as well, especially players like McGovern who have shown historical ability.
3. We haven’t had the draft yet and the draft is absolutely loaded with interior offensive lineman. We can’t criticise Joe Douglas’s strategy without seeing the whole strategy. If Douglas is seeing what the scouting community is seeing, he knows that this draft goes extremely deep with offensive lineman. Whether that’s the perfect scheme fit guy in USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, the best pass blocker in the draft in Wyatt Davis, the upside of Quinn Meinerz or Illinois’s Kendrick Green. We could go on and on and on about guard play in the draft, there are plenty to be excited about.
We need to judge the off-season as a complete. If we leave the 2021 draft with Vera-Tucker and a Josh Myers later in the draft, then I’m going to be absolutely thrilled with the off-season. It’s why I’m not concerned...at least not yet.