The New York Jets are banking on their offensive line to take a big step in 2019, but can they?
The New York Jets made it a priority to bolster the offensive line this offseason, bringing in Kelechi Osemele. They will also see the return of Brandon Shell from injury and will have Brian Winters featuring once again at right tackle.
Last season, however, the Jets spent the fifth-most on offensive linemen in the NFL. Unfortunately, their money didn’t live up to the expectation set out for the players.
A starting unit of Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Spencer Long, Brian Winters, and Brandon Shell was decimated with injuries and inefficiency. Brent Zvale, Jonotthan Harrison, and Dakota Dozier all received playing time to compensate for injuries.
The unit finished the season ranking 25th in the league, which ost anticipated at the beginning of the season. The signing of past-their-prime players hurt salary cap, and a subpar running back featuring behind them didn’t help pick up the slack. The signing of Le’Veon Bell should help hide their deficiencies to a degree.
His ability to come out of the backfield in a receiver role will force opposing defenses to fall back into coverage and not blitz as much. Run blocking was where the unit really struggled, but they finished 2018 with the 14th highest rating in pass-blocking efficiency.
Averaging just 4 yards per carry, ranking the Jets 29th in the league, severely hurt the offense’s production. Two significant moves this offseason changed the entire makeup of the unit — signing former Pro Bowler Kelechi Osemele, will help bolster the line in the trenches.
The Jets acquired Osemele on a steal but will pick up his massive $11.7 million per year cap hit. GM Mike Maccagnan sent a 5th round pick in exchange for a 6th round pick and Osemele. Additionally, Maccagnan cut Spencer Long, the oft-injured center. They will put their faith and hope in Harrison, the five-year veteran going on his sixth season in the NFL.
Jonotthon hasn’t started more than 10 games in his entire career, but given he can stay healthy, there’s no question he will be the consistent starter in 2019.
Aside from their veteran talent, the Jets did spend one of their third-round picks on USC tackle Chuma Edoga, a player with promise and production at the collegiate level. He’s far from being a polished product, but a year of development should pay dividends.