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Jets OL Reset | Unit Trains Its Sights on Great Health, High Productivity

The Starters Can Run- and Pass-Block at a Top Level, but Can They Remain Together and Build 'a Strong Bond'?


Returnees: G Alijah Vera-Tucker (4th year), C Joe Tippmann (2nd), OL Max Mitchell (3rd), OL Wes Schweitzer (9th), T Carter Warren (2nd), OL Jake Hanson (4th), OL Xavier Newman (2nd), OL Chris Glaser (2nd), OL Austin Deculus (3rd)

New Vets: T Tyron Smith (14th year), T Morgan Moses (11th), G John Simpson (5th)

Newcomers: T Olu Fashanu (rookie—Round 1), OL Obinna Eze (1st year), OL Vitaliy Gurman (1st), OL Brady Latham (UDFA), OL Willie Tyler (UDFA)

What's New
Three-fifths of the line positions will likely be filled by the new veteran arrivals this offseason. LT Tyron Smith, as an unrestricted FA from Dallas, and RT Morgan Moses, in a trade with Baltimore, could form a set of experienced, accomplished bookend tackles. LG John Simpson also came to One Jets Drive as a UFA off of one 17-start season with the Ravens after his first three NFL campaigns with Las Vegas. They should merge seamlessly with returning young veterans Alijah Vera-Tucker at RG and Joe Tippmann at C.

Then of course there is Olu Fashanu, the rookie out of Penn State selected 12th overall in the April draft who moves into the role of tackle of the near future, whether that be 2024 or '25.

Strength of the Group
Regarding the anticipated starting five of Smith, Simpson, Tippmann, Vera-Tucker and Moses, if their recent sacks-allowed stats (source: are a true indication, they could conceivably allow a combined 20 or so sacks in 17 games, protection that would be instrumental in helping QB Aaron Rodgers execute his own Jets reset in the coming season.

And all have experience with some very productive running games. In Smith's 14 Dallas seasons combined, the Cowboys ranked seventh in the NFL in rush yards/game. Moses and Simpson both started for the NFL's No. 1 rushing unit last season, and AVT and Tippmann opened holes for the explosive Breece Hall, who led the league's 14th-ranked yards/carry offense despite the passing game consistency.

And if the starters do suffer some injuries, Jets HC Robert Saleh and others have pointed to a silver lining from last year's injury-ravaged unit. Four players still on the roster — Max Mitchell, Carter Warren, Xavier Newman and Jake Hanson — each logged more than 200 offensive snaps while filling in, thus gaining experience that could be tapped if some frontliners were to miss time this coming season.

Biggest Question
Speaking of injuries, health has been an ongoing issue on the OL. Last season 13 players played along the line, all 13 started at least one game, and five started games at two positions. The last time three Jets O-linemen started all games in a season was 2015. Rodgers and the offense would benefit greatly from a full season of relatively good health up and down the line.

Saleh suspects that moving Vera-Tucker around among four starting line spots in his three Jets seasons contributed to season-ending injuries in the early middle of both the '22 and '23 schedules, so AVT looks set at RG. Smith is a generational-type pass-protecting LT, but various injuries have cost him from three to 14 games each of the past eight seasons.

But Moses, even coming off playing most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, is historically the picture of health after extending his ironman streak to 134 consecutive games played (133 starts) before missing several games last season. And Simpson and Tippmann so far look to be available and reliable young NFL performers.

Potential Training Camp Battle to Watch
On paper, the battles are all for backup spots. Fashanu, who started 21 games at LT for the Nittany Lions, figures to work behind Smith, yet Olu said he spent time at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine working at RT just in case. So right tackle could be where the action is, with Fashanu joining Carter Warren and Max Mitchell, who combined for 10 of the Jets' 17 RT starts last season, theoretically fighting to unseat Moses or, more realistically, competing for the first backup role on either end of the line.

What They're Saying
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett on the need for continuity on the line and for the entire offense: "I think you look, as the season goes on, the healthiest teams are usually hitting their stride and doing very well. You have to always plan for that, so the more you can mix and match them just for those instances is very important. But at the same time, the longer you can keep the front five going together, it's always going to build a strong bond."

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