For multiple reasons, the New York Jets offensive line will be crucial for their chances of success in 2022.
Not only will it be charged with keeping the pressure off second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, but it will also be relied on heavily in the run game. That’s part of the reason the headlines tend to follow offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
“The Big Ticket” could be the most important player for the Jets this season, outside of Wilson himself. He’s attempting to bounce back after a lost season and secure the right tackle position, with veteran George Fant continuing on as the blindside blocker.
Due to the lack of depth behind them, both will be paramount, and Becton appears to be settling into his new role pretty well considering it’s his first time taking the field in about 10 months.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Pass Protection Has Improved
Keep in mind that the offensive line was at a major disadvantage during week one of camp. They always are before the pads come on — which will begin tomorrow (Aug. 1).
That’s because blockers have nothing to grab at right now, allowing quicker edge rushers to fly past them for would-be sacks. We saw that a lot this week, especially on the left side of the O-line. Don’t worry, Fant is still recovering from his knee surgery and did not play. It was Conor McDermott and Chuma Edoga lining up next to Laken Tomlinson, which should explain some of the early struggles.
Becton had his moments of difficulty too, but seemed to get better and better with every practice. “His pass blocking is night-and-day compared to last year,” NYJ beat reporter Connor Hughes informed fans. “[Bryce] Huff got him twice [on July 29], but he’s really locked down that side [since]. Very intrigued to watch him once pads come on.”
The update was encouraging after fatigue seemed to get the better of Becton the first day or two. “He’s clearly still working his way back into football shape after a year away,” wrote Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, “even if he physically looks better than he did in the spring.”
The road back will be no easy feat for the former first-rounder but he’s been making positive steps. First showing up at training camp looking slim. Then adapting to the right tackle role quicker than expected.
Becton may have been drafted to be the franchise left tackle but his skill set as a mauler has always felt better-suited for the righthand side. If he continues to acclimate himself, this transition could help flip his career for the better.
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Depth Is Still a Concern
It’s great to hear that Becton is performing well but with Fant still on the mend — could return as soon as this week — the depth is still one of the largest question marks heading into August.
Rosenblatt discussed this after talking about Becton: “This was a concern before camp and there has been nothing to dispel it. The Jets are relying on two tackles in Fant and Becton who are both coming off knee injuries. Becton played in only one game last season. Odds are, one or both of them won’t play all 17 games.”
He also detailed the play from McDermott, Edoga and rookie Max Mitchell — the three backup candidates behind the starters.
“Chuma Edoga has filled in nicely for Fant at left tackle, but it was a disaster when Conor McDermott got reps there on Saturday,” Rosenblatt relayed. “Fourth-round rookie Max Mitchell can play both tackle spots, but it might be too early to rely on him as a top backup. The interior is in better shape with experienced vets Dan Feeney and Nate Herbig as backups, but it wouldn’t be surprising if GM Joe Douglas at least finds a veteran tackle on the waiver wire after cutdown day to add some depth.”