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SI Identifies Jets' Positions of Strength and Weakness

Writer's choices are cause for confidence in defense, but concern on offense

Strengths and weaknesses —  every team has them.

When it comes to the New York Jets, Sports Illustrated identified one glaring strength and one significant weakness while analyzing the team's position groups.

As part of SI's "32 Teams in 32 Days" series, writer Gilberto Manzano did the honors. 

Although the Jets noticeably increased their strength at quarterback thanks to the addition of four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, Manzano chose the defensive backfield as the team's "position of strength." The cornerback-led unit features young rising star Sauce Gardner amidst reliable veterans.With a high importance of protecting Rodgers in the pocket, the idea that offensive tackle is Gang Green's "position of weakness" creates cause for concern. The Jets are heavily relying on 38-year-old Duane Brown to headline a group that features three key returnees coming off injury.

Position of strength: Secondary 

Gardner’s presence alone makes the Jets’ secondary one of the best in the league, but he does have plenty of help. D.J. Reed was a quality No. 2 outside cornerback, and Michael Carter II is one of the better slot cornerbacks in the league. Also, the Jets traded for safety Chuck Clark, a stout run stopper with 101 total tackles for the Ravens last season, but Clark recently suffered a torn ACL during OTAs. That led to the Jets signing Adrian Amos, a former standout safety for the Packers. Amos could start the season next to Jordan Whitehead, who had 89 total tackles and two interceptions in 2022.

Position of weakness: Offensive tackle 

The most uncertainty on the Jets’ roster surrounds the two starting tackle spots, with Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton. Heading into his age-38 season, Brown is one of the oldest starting left tackles in the league, but he played well enough last year and logged 746 offensive snaps. Becton, 24, is much younger, but he has struggled with consistency and availability throughout his career; the 2020 first-round pick was challenged by Saleh earlier this offseason to earn the starting left tackle job after Becton voiced his displeasure about playing right tackle. The tackle spots have question marks, but the Jets’ interior offensive line should be fine with a healthy Alijah Vera-Tucker, who only played seven games last season. Vera-Tucker is a guard, but he did play tackle in college.

Headlining the Jets' secondary, the All-Pro Gardner led the NFL with 20 passes defensed in 2022. The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year limited opposing passers to a 62.7 QB rating when targeted. Sports Illustrated tabbed the 6-foot-3 Gardner as the No. 2 overall cornerback in its offseason league-wide position rankings.In his first season after signing as a free agent, Reed recorded 12 passes defensed and held opposing receivers to 5.8 yards per target. Manning the slot, Carter was charged with allowing only one TD while permitting 6.1 yards per target.Like Reed, Whitehead also joined the Jets during the 2022 offseason and proceeded to start all 17 games. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fourth-round pick could take a step forward during his second season in the Jets' scheme.

"I think Jordan’s [Whitehead] going to be a lot better playing his second year in the system," said head coach Robert Saleh at the NFL League meetings in late March.

With Brown penciled in as the starting left tackle, in spite of Becton's wishes, there'll likely be a battle for right tackle duties and veteran free-agent addition Billy Turner is more than capable of claiming that spot over Becton.Brown, Becton and second-year pro Max Mitchell, who made five starts at tackle as a rookie, all lost multiple games to injury in 2022. Fourth-round rookie bookend Carter Warren provides competition at the position, but he also underwent surgery as a senior at Pitt.

The uncertainty surrounding the position group stands as its key weakness. Hoping to keep their future Hall-of-Fame field general upright, the Jets will need to identify the most sufficient options at two important spots. 

 >>  https://www.si.com/nfl/jets/news/si-identifies-jets-positions-of-strength-and-weakness

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Nothing that hasn’t already been stated.  One thing about the oline. Last season it suffered not so much because of talent but because they weren’t able to field the same group game in and game out.  Not saying their talent level is great but they don’t need all pros at each position to be good. And it should also be noted that the qb play (and some of the receivers) play was sub par so the oline looked much worse than it actually was. I think most would agree that the talent level has been upgraded and it just remains to be seen if they can play as a team.

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