After experiencing some ups and downs early in his career, Jets RG Brian Winters has found his comfort zone. The 6'4", 320-pounder, who now has started 30 career games, has become a key cog on the interior for the Green & White.
"It's growing pains. Obviously you go through some things earlier on in your career and it takes time for players to develop," he said during an appearance on Inside the Jets. "I went into this season with a chip on my shoulder, obviously from last season and I carried it over to this season. It's one of those things where you settle in somewhere and you feel more comfortable and that's how I felt."
Winters was one of three new OL starters for the Jets on opening day in 2016 compared to the 2015 opener. While Winters eventually took over for Willie Colon last year and started 10 contests, Ryan Clady replaced the retired D'Brickashaw Ferguson at LT and both Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale are working with the first team at RT with Breno Giacomini (back) on the PUP list.
"They're both doing a great job and they have been since camp. Without Breno it's tough because you build a relationship with someone, but these guys have stepped in," Winters said. "Obviously, I've talked with them and done some things with them and it doesn't really matter who's next to me because I feel confident with both of them."
Adversity struck the Jets in Buffalo when LG James Carpenter exited with a calf injury. But Wesley Johnson stepped in and the offense continued to dominate, totaling 493 yard in all as the team notched 28 first downs.
"Obviously Carp going down, no one wants that, but Wesley stepped right in and we continued to move the ball and do good things," Winters said. "He's a versatile player, so it was good."
Last month, Winters received praise from both head coach Todd Bowles and offensive line coach Steve Marshall for an outstanding training camp. Still just 25, Winters knows how valuable Marshall has been in helping him take strides.
"He's unbelievable. He's one of those guys that's not so huge on technique. As long as you get the job done, he's super happy," Winters said. "He's real good with the younger guys. He goes in there, he teaches them and he likes to run the football too so that's one thing we have in common. I think he's a great coach and he's definitely helped us out a lot."
Entering Week 3, the Jets have some impressive offensive rankings: No. 4 overall, T6 scoring, No. 5 run and No. 10 pass. Second-year WR Quincy Enunwa continues to flash and RB Matt Forte (196 rush yards, 3 TDs) has fit in quite well behind Winters and the rest of the line.*
*"He's a huge student of the game. He's one of those guys that will talk to me after and tell me how he approaches certain plays," Winters said of the Work Horse. "Then in my head, I know how to block it for him and make it easier for him. He's a great guy, he has great patience, he waits on things and doesn't blow out a play. He waits for us to set up our block and then he approaches. It's something different and I'm excited to continue to play with him for the rest of the season."
The Jets have a talented collection of playmakers, a number wideouts and running backs who can make things happen with the ball in their hands. But it all starts up front and Winters and the rest of the O-line are off to a fine start.