If the Jets want to become contenders again there has to be a changing of the guard, as in the right and/or left guard spots. Their offensive line is awful. This past season, how many times did we see a 3rd or 4th and 1 and our right guard Alex Van Routen missed his block or got blown out? Or when Mekhi Becton went into the tent for one of his many times and Chuma Edoga replaced him, he would religiously get a penalty for holding on his very first play. These scenes happened so often I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Joe Douglas has got to shore up the offensive line especially at guard.
Besides Van Routen, Alex Lewis and late season pick-up Pat Elflein played bad. Watching the Super Bowl, it was hard to find a difference between the way Pat Mahomes looked and the way Sam Darnold looked during this past year. Mahomes was under pressure the whole game never being able to get into a rhythm. The way both offensive tackles on the Kansas City Chiefs were collapsing play after play was stunning. It brought back memories from the late 1960’s of Jets tackle Sam Walton being tossed around like a rag doll by defensive lineman Ike Lassiter of the Oakland Raiders in the Heidi game. We are still weeks away from the start of the new NFL season. New coach Robert Saleh has been in the film room bunker with his new coaching staff. The quarterback situation will be the number one off-season decision for the Jets but offensive guards should be a very close second.
NFL free agency begins on March 17th, six weeks before the draft. The offensive guard position for the Jets starts and ends with two names: Joe Thuney of the New England Patriots and Brandon Scherff of the Washington football team. There will be other names tossed around at this position like Green Bay’s Lance Taylor or Arizona’s JR Sweezy. But just like there is a lot of space between Trevor Lawrence and the other quarterbacks behind him, it is the same situation with Thuney and Scherff. Both are far and away above the other unrestricted free agent guards. There are some other good guards but they are not even close to being in the same class as Thuney and Scherff.
Joe Thuney is 28 years old. The Ohio native was a third round pick of the Patriots from North Carolina State in 2016 (Jets got Christian Hackenberg 27 picks before). He made the All-Rookie team, played on two Super Bowl teams and was second team All-Pro in 2019. This past season the Patriots converted 78% of their short-yardage runs (third or fourth down with two yards to go or less) and Thuney was the key on almost every one of those plays. He had three penalties the whole season and allowed just two sacks.
Brandon Scherff is 29 years old. The Iowa native was a first round pick from the University of Iowa in 2015. He is a four time Pro Bowl player and made first team All-Pro this past season. Scherff had only two penalties and gave up three sacks this past season. He has had an incredible six-year stretch though the injury bug had him miss games in each of the last four seasons.
Either player would be great to help build up an area that has been neglected for too many years. The only reason I would target Thuney first is because since he got into the NFL he has never missed a game. He has been on the Patriots roster for five years and has started all 80 games. One of the most important qualities with free agents is to pick players that are durable and don’t miss many games. With Joe Thuney, the Jets are going to have a lot of competition with the Cincinnati Bengals making a strong play for the Ohio native.
As we get close to free agency, there will be a lot of talk about the wide receiver spot. Jets fans will be clamouring for names like Allen Robinson, Will Fuller or Brooklyn native Curtis Samuel just to name a few. The Jets and Joe Douglas have got to stay disciplined and stick with their plan in building a solid foundation. No more Trumaine Johnson’s or Le’Veon Bell’s. Signing either Joe Thuney or Brandon Scherff is the smart move. If the Jets are lucky enough to get one of these players they should then look into the draft for the other guard. A few of the names that may be available late in the first round or early in the second round are Wyatt Davis from Ohio State, Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC or Trey Smith from Tennessee. Another name to watch for is Creed Humhprey from Oklahoma. He is a center who can play guard. But I would seriously consider drafting Humphrey because this would give the Jets flexibility in possibly moving center Connor McGovern back to guard.
The New York Jets last made the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. The offensive line consisted of: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Fanaca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody. He are some interesting stats.
Year Record Rush.Yds. Rush. TDs Sacks Allowed/Game
2009 9-7 2756 21 1.6 (7th in league)
2010 11-5 2374 14 1.6 (tied for 3rd)
2019 7-9 1257 6 3.2 (29th in league)
2020 2-14 1683 9 2.7 (24th in league)
You can see how a team’s record relates to the success of the offensive line. I would love to have Deshaun Watson throwing TD passes to Allen Robinson or Curtis Samuel. And yes he would be upgrade over Sam Darnold. But just from these few stats it is quite obvious that football is won in the trenches whether on the ground or in the air. Joe Douglas will not mortgage the future just to get on the back pages of the local tabloids. The good news for all Jet fans is that this is the right formula and if the Jets are not in the playoffs in 2022, I will be surprised. Stay the course Joe!
Marty Schupak has been a New York Jets football fan since 1964. Ray Clifford another lifelong fan contributed to this article. Their blog and Podcast are both at: