Jets New Signing Crushes Debut, Could Fill Major Need

Caleb Benenoch

Getty New York Jets offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (right) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018.

Fans don’t always notice offensive linemen when they do well. It’s one of those positions that would probably prefer not to hear their name on the broadcast — because most shout-outs are negative more often than not.

That’s the kind of night newcomer Caleb Benenoch had in his New York Jets preseason debut against the Philadelphia Eagles. Quiet, but rock solid in what he was asked to do.

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Benenoch Nailed the First Job Interview

Despite getting destroyed in the first quarter, the Jets defeated the Eagles on the back of their second and third-teamers. Players like Benenoch, who came in and righted the ship.

It’s never ideal to see your starters struggle but the Green & White did show they have a ton of depth to work with on this roster. If there was one area head coach Robert Saleh sorely needed a reserve to step up though, it was at offensive tackle.

Backups like Conor McDermott and Chuma Edoga have been run over all summer, and it was clear that rookie Max Mitchell was not ready on August 12. Even with Duane Brown joining the roster the swing tackle role must be filled and Benenoch could be the guy to do it.

A former fifth-round draft pick and six-year NFL veteran, Benenoch has plenty of experience in this league. He started all 16 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 and has logged over 1,500 total snaps on the field.

On Friday, he displayed his blocking savvy earning a 90.7 grade on Pro Football Focus — which was second only to TE Lawrence Cager on offense. Benenoch slotted in at right tackle after Mitchell subbed out and transformed the run game from non-existent to forceful during his seven rushing snaps (93.4 run-blocking mark).

More importantly, he was able to stabilize the right side in pass protection. Over nine pass-blocking snaps, Benenoch allowed zero quarterback pressures. It was a near-perfect audition for what could be an integral job behind older starters like George Fant and Brown.

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Backup Offensive Linemen Looked Good

Benenoch wasn’t the only reserve that helped transform the blocking unit for quarterbacks like Mike White and Chris Streveler, most of the backups had good nights.

In fact, every quarterback pressure came against the starting O-line — Mitchell (2), Connor McGovern (1), Laken Tomlinson (1), Edoga (1) — outside of one allowed by tight end Kenny Yeboah.

Granted, the Jets were without their real starting tackles: Brown and Fant. The reserves also faced the Eagles’ second and third-unit defenders.

Having said all of that, each of these blockers shined in the preseason opener:

  • Alijah Vera-Tucker (RG): Not a backup, but the only starter that was not charged with a quarterback pressure. Run-blocking needed work, however.
  • Nate Herbig (LG, C): Displayed versatility and pass protection, zero QB pressures allowed on 21 pass-blocking snaps.
  • Grant Hermanns (LT): Really nice pass-pro effort from the former UDFA, also helped provide the run-blocking push on the Zonovan Knight touchdown.
  • Dan Feeney (RG): Ditto for Feeney, who joined Hermanns in shoving Knight across the line and had no quarterback pressures allowed at right guard.
  • Derrick Kelly (LT): The best run-blocking grade of the night behind Benenoch and another blank scorecard in pass protection (which is a good thing).
  • Ross Pierschbacher (C): Solid marks all around for the third-string center.
  • Isaiah Williams (RG, LG): Outperformed Chris Glaser in what could have been a head-to-head battle prior to the first round of cuts.

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