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O-Line Review: Jets Had Highs & Lows in the Trenches

Injuries, Inconsistency Led to Run Game, Pass Protection Swings


Another Inconsistent Year
The 2018 Jets offensive line shared some traits with the lines from the previous two seasons. There were some excellent rushing games, as in both preceding seasons, with the 169 yards in the season opener at Detroit a tasty appetizer and Game 5 against Denver the satisfying main course.

Isaiah Crowell ran for a franchise-record 219 yards that day while the overall ground game totaled 323 yards — the best total ever in a Jets home game — at 8.5 yards/carry — the second-best one-game average in franchise history.

The pass protection also had some solid outings, similar to 2016. The no sacks of Sam Darnold at Buffalo was a big part of the Jets' 27-23 comeback win that day, and the blockers yielded only one sack vs. the Broncos.

But injuries played almost as large a role as they did in '16, when four starters ended the season on Injured Reserve. This past season both LG James Carpenter and RT Brandon Shell didn't make it for the whole schedule while Spencer Long's multiple midseason injuries shook up the interior line until Long finished stronger at LG and Jonotthan Harrison started at C for eight of the last nine games.

Even more damaging to the running game as any week-to-week OL juggling were the injuries that ended Bilal Powell's season after seven games and Isaiah Crowell's after 13. As a result, Jets backs suffered too many first contacts behind the line and mediocre run rankings of 27th with 101.4 yards/game and 29th with 3.96 yards/carry.

The pass pro, while not spotless, did a fair job in allowing 37 sacks, tied for 12th-least in the league, and 74 QB hits allowed, 10th-least. Still, Darnold's rate of being sacked on 6.8% of his dropbacks was 21st among individual signalcallers.

The Top Images of O-Line During the 2018 Season

Looking Ahead
If all are healthy, there's nothing wrong with the experience of, from LT to RT, Kelvin Beachum (16 starts in his seventh pro season), Carpenter (eighth-year man with 58 starts in his four Jets seasons), Long/Harrison at center (combined 10 pro seasons), Brian Winters (sixth-year pro who just completed his first 16-start campaign) and Shell (third-year man with 26 starts the past two years)

But Carpenter and Harrison can become unrestricted free agents as can Jets multiyear contributors Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale and Dakota Dozier.

New Jets HC Adam Gase made a few changes to Miami's OL starters the previous three years as the Dolphins transitioned from Branden Albert to 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil at LT, and from longtime 'Fins C Mike Pouncey and longtime NFL guard Jermon Bushrod last year.

So it will be interesting to see how GM Mike Maccagnan, Gase and his coaches rework the Jets line as the new coach addresses protecting Darnold at a sub-4.0% sack rate, where Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck resided in 2018, while working on ways to get greater run-game consistency.

On the Roster in 2018

(Off—offensive snaps, ST—special teams snaps)

OL GP GS DNP IA Off ST How Ended
G Brian Winters 16 16 0 0 1001 69 Active
T Kelvin Beachum 16 16 0 0 1001 2 Active
T Brandon Shell 14 14 0 0 850 59 IR
C/G Spencer Long 13 13 2 1 805 0 Active
G James Carpenter 10 10 0 1 624 43 IR
C Jonotthan Harrison 16 8 0 0 506 69 Active
OL Brent Qvale 16 2 0 0 159 133 Active
G Dakota Dozier 6 2 3 7 106 26 Active
OL Ben Braden 2 0 0 4 0 8 Active
T Eric Smith 0 0 0 2 0 0 Active
T Ben Ijalana 0 0 0 0 0 0 IR

Reserve/Future Signings

Dieugot Joseph (PS), Jon Toth (PS).

Potential Free Agents in 2019

Unrestricted: James Carpenter, Dakota Dozier, Jonotthan Harrison, Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale. Exclusive Rights: Eric Smith.

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