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After QB, O-Line Should be Front and Center of Mac’s Mistakes


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In taking a step back and looking at how the 2017 season has worked out for the New York Jets on a move-by-move basis, the vast majority of key decisions made by GM Mike Maccagnan have worked out as well as, and in many cases, even better than anyone expected.

  • He used one of John Idzik’s many wasted draft picks (Calvin Pryor) and turned it in to DeMario Davis, who is playing at a pro bowl level.
  • Darron Lee has shed the “bust” label as he continues to improve and make plays (53 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles).
  • Morris Claiborne has played at a high level and is yet to surrender a passing touchdown this season
  • After struggling with a wrist injury earlier this season, Leonard Williams is back to harassing opposing quarterbacks.
  • Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye appear to be locks to settle down the secondary for years to come.
  • Robby Anderson is establishing himself as one of the top deep threats in the NFL.
  • Jordan Jenkins may be underappreciated by the casual fan, but anyone paying attention can see that he’s turning in to a quality starter.
  • Snagging a second-round pick and Jermaine Kearse in exchange for Sheldon Richardson looks to be a coup.
  • Rookie running back Elijah McGuire has looked like a very good back in limited reps despite atrocious run blocking up front…and that’s where it all goes wrong for Maccagnan.

Despite having enough talent to hang with some of the top teams in the NFL, the Jets have been unable to put anyone away due to their inability to run valuable minutes off the clock with any semblance of a ground game.  To illustrate just how little faith Todd Bowles and John Morton have in their run blocking, look no further than the Jets opting to throw the ball three times from the one-yard line against the Panthers this Sunday.

Poor play by the O-line isn’t the only issue, but the salaries attached to some of those under-performing players will make it difficult to move on from them after this season.

LT Kelvin Beachum: 

Beachum has been adequate at left tackle this season and in all honesty, he has played at about the level you would expect a player at his position based on his salary (16th in per-year guarantees).

The issue with Beachum is related more to what it would cost to move on from him if the Jets had any interest in drafting a left tackle this season.  If the Jets were to cut ties with Beachum after the season to upgrade, they would be looking at $7 million in dead money.  One alternative would be to draft a left tackle and move Beachum to the right side, but with Brandon Shell coming along on that side, would they want to halt his growth?

LG James Carpenter:

Carpenter’s struggles may be the most surprising development of the season.  Previously viewed as the Jets best lineman, Carpenter has seen his play plummet this season.  Cutting or trading Carpenter would be far more manageable than Beachum, coming with a negligible hit of just over $2 million.  Mere pennies for a team projected to have up to $90 million in cap space this off-season.  After playing at a very high level in each of his first two seasons with the Jets, pro football focus has Carpenter rated at a shockingly low 37.4 this season, placing him 71st out of 77.

C Wesley Johnson:

More good salary news here for the Jets as Johnson, arguably the worst center in the NFL, is playing on just a one-year deal.  Still, Maccagnan’s failure to draft a center to compete with Johnson was irresponsible at the very least.  The best thing that could happen to the Jets would be to upgrade at center this off-season and find that the abysmal play of Carpenter and right guard Brian Winters is due in part to knowing they have a gaping hole on the line between them in Johnson and trying to over-compensate.

RG Brian Winters:

Winters’ deal is the one that looks worse than any other on offense at the moment and being that it was just signed this off-season, parting ways any time soon will be virtually impossible.

The Jets would get no cap relief while taking on a $7 million cap hit if Winters were to be let go.  It’s hard to fault Maccagnan for paying a player who looked to have turned the corner after three poor pro seasons transitioning from small school offensive tackle to NFL guard.

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Right guard Brian Winters has struggled in his fifth pro season.

Even still, would the Jets be that much worse off if they’d let Winters walk and allowed Dakota Dozier to audition for the spot?  That’s something we’ll never know, but what we do know is that between Winters and Beachum, the Jets would take on $14 million in dead money if they looked to upgrade both spots.  As mentioned with Carpenter, the Jets will likely hope that improved play from the center spot will turn things around for both Carpenter and Winters.

Brandon Shell:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but Shell has held his own in pass protection against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL at times, but his run blocking leaves quite a bit to be desired.  Shell hasn’t displayed the nastiness you’d like to see out of a right tackle and they may ultimately be his undoing, but for his current level of play, age and price tag, this extended look is well worth it as he may become the team’s right tackle for years to come after being chosen in the fifth round of last season’s draft.

As is often the case with the Jets, their biggest need this off-season will be quarterback, but the O-line is a close second.  How Maccagnan navigates the current deals in place in an effort to import better talent be a story line worth keeping an eye on.

*All salary data per overthecap.com

 

 

 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, UnitedWhofans said:

I agree with this assessment. The biggest issue to me is C. 

Yep and that in turn is affecting our Guards, not to make excuses but it's no coincidence their play is down this year they are probably greatly compensating for the lack of talent at Center.  Johnson could stick around as a decent backup but he cannot be out starting Center next year. 

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8 minutes ago, drsamuel84 said:

Yep and that in turn is affecting our Guards, not to make excuses but it's no coincidence their play is down this year they are probably greatly compensating for the lack of talent at Center.  Johnson could stick around as a decent backup but he cannot be out starting Center next year. 

Wesley Johnson appears to me to be Wayne Hunter 2.0. A guy who played well in limited time and when pressed to start, didnt do well

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51 minutes ago, Beerfish said:

Other than the premium positions of:

QB

LT

C

CB

Pass rusher

Play maker (RB or WR)

he has done just great.

Those three are good to me. The article mentions Beachum. And as for play maker, you obviously haven't seen the recent weeks

Claiborne is interesting. His health problems means shying away from a big deal. But other teams also know this, so he wont get a big deal from anyone else

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Just now, UnitedWhofans said:

Those two are good to me. The article mentions Beachum. And as for play maker, you obviously havent seen the recent weeks

Eh this team needs a bell cow back. One of the reasons we're not closing out games. No run game. Bad oline mixed with average backs won't win you games. 

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8 minutes ago, MDL_JET said:

I think if they fixed C, that could easily make the guys around him a bit better. If you have a turnstile at Center, that kinda brings down the whole oline. There could be upgrades but that obviously needs to the be number one focus. 

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Billy Price and Frank Ragnow are two excellent center prospects who could be available in the second round and could be day 1 starters for us.  Weston Richburg is also a UFA and could be someone to spend on in FA to solidfy the position and still draft a guy like Price to develop for a year and then replace Winters or Carpenter.

Beachem hasnt been elite but I think with a better center driving the Running game, he can be an effective starter at his price point and allow us to draft a mid round tackle to develop.  

It would be great for the team to also use a pick on someone like Nick Chubb to be that 4th quarter bell cow type pack to pair with McGuire and Powell.

Lastly, I think the return of Enunwa to the hybrid H-Back/WR role he played in 2015 would help the line as a whole and create some offensive mismatches for the team.

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3 minutes ago, BCJet said:

Billy Price and Frank Ragnow are two excellent center prospects who could be available in the second round and could be day 1 starters for us.  Weston Richburg is also a UFA and could be someone to spend on in FA to solidfy the position and still draft a guy like Price to develop for a year and then replace Winters or Carpenter.

I was watching Price play against Michigan and he did not have that good of a game.

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19 minutes ago, UnitedWhofans said:

I was watching Price play against Michigan and he did not have that good of a game.

I remember Kevin Zietler having a terrible senior bowl week, then going on to be an excellent NFL Player.

Its very hard to judge these kids on small samples, it needs to be their full body of work.  I dont know much about grading college interior olineman it just seems from what is available to read that he is a good prospect at a position of need for us.

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2 hours ago, JetNation said:

Brandon Shell:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but Shell has held his own in pass protection against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL at times, but his run blocking leaves quite a bit to be desired. 

Click here to read the full story...

 

6 minutes ago, UnitedWhofans said:

Tell PFF that. They are the ones that have said he is a good pass blocker

They said "at times."  I am not a huge fan of PFF, but they grade Beachum considerably higher at both pass and run blocking and Beachum is a low-grade tackle who is not having a great year. 

On top of that... don't make me post that gif of him waving at the air while a 330 lb rookie DT runs past him untouched.  That was while Qvale was dealing with Mack on the outside.  The next day I read how great it was that Shell "held his own against Khalil Mack." 

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2 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

 

They said "at times."  I am not a huge fan of PFF, but they grade Beachum considerably higher at both pass and run blocking and Beachum is a low-grade tackle who is not having a great year. 

On top of that... don't make me post that gif of him waving at the air while a 330 lb rookie DT runs past him untouched.  That was while Qvale was dealing with Mack on the outside.  The next day I read how great it was that Shell "held his own against Khalil Mack." 

Shell and Beachum are average.  Overall it’s a very mediocre OL but Mac should still get the extension 

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54 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

I nominate Brandon Shell for most overrated Jet of 2017.  Elijah McGuire is a good candidate for the award in 2018. 

McGuire is only gonna be looked at as overrated if he's asked to carry the load. He's a good change of pace back. 

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5 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

 

They said "at times."  I am not a huge fan of PFF, but they grade Beachum considerably higher at both pass and run blocking and Beachum is a low-grade tackle who is not having a great year. 

On top of that... don't make me post that gif of him waving at the air while a 330 lb rookie DT runs past him untouched.  That was while Qvale was dealing with Mack on the outside.  The next day I read how great it was that Shell "held his own against Khalil Mack." 

PFF had Beachum rated as an average LT.

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6 minutes ago, MDL_JET said:

McGuire is only gonna be looked at as overrated if he's asked to carry the load. He's a good change of pace back. 

I understand your point, but we have people clamoring to give him more run and acting like the only thing holding him back from being Kamara and Kareem Hunt all rolled into one is Bowles propensity for playing vets.  Never mind that those vets have better catch percentages and yards per carry than the kid.  Take away his 70 yarder and he is averaging 2.9 ypc.

This board continuously looks at guys who have not proved themselves busts as if they are budding stars.  See: Peake, Charone and Mauldin, Lorenzo

4 minutes ago, UnitedWhofans said:

PFF had Beachum rated as an average LT.

Considerably worse than an average LT.  Sounds like a great building block! #infrastructure

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Beachum has been the Jets best OL this year, whatever that's worth, and center is definitely the top OL priority, but neither is reason enough to ignore the LT position if they end up having an upgrade available to them, as long as that's not done at the expense of other positions.

If they get someone at LT, I would see no issue with Beachum moving to the right side and competing with Shell for that spot, while both guards could have their own spots be in jeopardy to the loser of that battle.  Let the best men win across the line, and with the cap room they have coming to them next year, if it results in one of the higher paid/less savings ones being a candidate to get cut, that would be the time to do it.  Of course none of that forgives the current mess, but it still needs to be cleaned up regardless.

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9 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

I understand your point, but we have people clamoring to give him more run and acting like the only thing holding him back from being Kamara and Kareem Hunt all rolled into one is Bowles propensity for playing vets.  Never mind that those vets have better catch percentages and yards per carry than the kid.  Take away his 70 yarder and he is averaging 2.9 ypc.

This board continuously looks at guys who have not proved themselves busts as if they are budding stars.  See: Peake, Charone and Mauldin, Lorenzo

Considerably worse than an average LT.  Sounds like a great building block! #infrastructure

I haven't seen anyone saying that, must have missed it. But he's nothing but a young and fresher Powell. Maybe a bit better but that's it. 

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1 hour ago, MDL_JET said:

Eh this team needs a bell cow back. One of the reasons we're not closing out games. No run game. Bad oline mixed with average backs won't win you games. 

yep, especially on the oline.  powell can be a tough runner if there are holes but after forte goes they'll need to find another guy.

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