After the three weeks of preseason action and the final 53-man roster cutdown, we had a pretty good idea of what this depth chart would look like heading into the season opener.
Although after reading through this depth chart there appear to be a lot more questions than answers.
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Right Tackle Mystery Continues
After the preseason finale vs the Philadelphia Eagles, Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh said the situation had cleared itself up indicating that he had chosen a starter at right tackle.
Then over the last few weeks, he has dodged questions better than Neo in The Matrix.
“You know what [a few people] told me dude just put it to bed, just tell everyone that they’ll see everything on Sunday,” Saleh on the right tackle battle. “So my answer based on that is you guys will see on Sunday.”
At the start of the offseason, it looked like George Fant would once again be the starting right tackle, but an unforeseen circumstance (Morgan Moses being released by Washington) created an opportunity the Jets simply couldn’t pass up.
They added a proven veteran who had started 96 consecutive games in a row. According to the Jets PR staff, that’s the second-longest active streak among offensive tackles.
At that moment it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Moses, the more proven commodity over a longer period of time would win the battle if you even wanted to call it one.
Yet the coaching staff continued to reiterate that it was a real battle between the two, despite the eye rolls they collectively received from Jets fans and analysts.
It’s time to give Fant a massive amount of credit.
We still don’t know who the starting right tackle will be in Week 1, but even the fact that it is actually a question is a major tip of the cap to Fant.
The athletic offensive tackle was immediately cast aside as an option and battled with a positive COVID test that took away precious reps right at the start of training camp.
Yet he fought through that adversity and made this an actual battle and may even win the starting gig which is a testament to his determination.
More Uncertainty at the Cornerback Spot
Right tackle wasn’t the only position that remained unclear on the initial depth chart.
“I have a feeling who is going to start, I’m not going to lie to y’all,” Saleh on the starting cornerback ahead of Week 1. “But we are going to wait until Sunday [for you guys to find out].”
While that answer was pretty vanilla, coach Saleh did provide some fascinating insight when The Athletic’s Connor Hughes asked him how long the leash would be for that player on Sunday:
That’s actually a great question, it all depends on the look in his eyes. If it looks like he is under control and he has made a couple of mistakes and he can recapture the moment then we’re going to roll as long as we can. I have also seen the flip side where they got that glassy look in their eyes like holy cow what’s going on this is moving too fast.
While there is uncertainty about who exactly will line up opposite of Bryce Hall, it’s no mystery that this unit is one of the most unproven in the entire NFL.
There are a lot of different ways that can and have been explained to properly articulate the level of inexperience, but Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus did a pretty good job on Twitter:
Of the seven cornerbacks on the Jets’ roster: four of them are rookies, two of them are in year No. 2, and zero of them were drafted higher than the fifth round.
This is a young group with a YOLO mentality that it is them against the world and we’ll see how they fare against the best of the best in the NFL.
Regardless of who ends up lining up at the beginning of the game, this is going to be one of the key matchups to watch against these talented Carolina receivers.
The Panthers have the edge with Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and Terrace Marshall. These corners are going to need some help from the front four to create pressure up front so they don’t have to cover as long.
If they’re unable to it could be a very long day at the office for the backend of the Gang Green defense on Sunday.