Jets Veteran Leader Makes Curious Comments About Mekhi Becton

Mekhi Becton

Getty New York Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton on August 23, 2020.

After Week 18 officially ended the New York Jets 2021 season, a good deal of players addressed the media one last time in a sort of exit interview.

Most of the press conferences were pretty standard. Rising stars commenting on their development, impending free agents portraying that they would like to return to Florham Park, and team leaders preaching a bright future under Robert Saleh.

This sort of talk doesn’t exactly make waves but one veteran made a couple of head-scratching remarks when it came to the question of Mekhi Becton living up to his potential.

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Does Moses Let One Slip?

The Jets have been very hush-hush on the topic of Becton all year long but there was one prior slip up. After the 2020 first-rounder struggled to adapt to the new pass protection scheme in training camp, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur made the mistake of being overly candid with the media.

“Mekhi’s going through some things right now,” LaFleur said on August 19. “He’s not playing at his best and he knows that.”

Becton later responded that he was “confused” by his OC’s remarks on the matter, attributing his rusty preseason play to missing OTAs with a foot ailment. This week, it’s possible that another member of the Jets organization has let some behind-the-scenes information leak out unintentionally.

During his end-of-year presser, right tackle Morgan Moses was asked what Becton can do to “live up to his potential as a left tackle.” I don’t know about you but his reply made me do a bit of a double-take:

The potential is outstanding right? We’ve seen what he can do as a player but at the end of the day, you gotta come to work every day and get better, and he’s doing that, he’s changing his mindset. He has a lot of great guys around him, leaders like George Fant and a lot of older guys who [have] been there and done it and so, for him it’s just to come in every day and do what he needs to do and get better.

Rewind that, did Moses say “changing his mindset”? Most veteran players and coaches are extremely good at answering questions diplomatically and Moses is no different. His response to whether he would return to New York in 2022 was a perfect example of that.

In rare moments though, a player or coach will be asked about something they weren’t expecting and sometimes, even the smallest of comments can be the most telling. Why would Becton need to change his mindset, according to an eight-year NFL veteran who has not missed a game since his rookie season in 2014?

It’s what a psychoanalyst would refer to as a Freudian slip and although I’m sure Moses meant nothing by it, this one line certainly woke me up from the doldrums of normal exit interview talk.

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Can Becton Alter This Narrative?

The mountainous left tackle has become one of the more polarizing figures in this new Jets core. He was Joe Douglas’ first draft pick on the job and some believed Becton was the wrong choice from day one with Tristan Wirfs on the board — who just accomplished his first Pro Bowl campaign in 2021.

Becton on the other hand totaled 48 offensive snaps before suffering what ended up turning into a season-ending injury due to various inaccuracies or setbacks in his recovery timeline. The truth is, no one outside the organization knows why the Louisville product never returned but many have their theories.

We’ve mentioned in the past for example that Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported that the Jets coaching staff was fed up with Becton’s work ethic. Douglas has continued to back the disappointing talent, however, both publicly and reportedly.

During the GM’s end-of-season press conference, he noted that the franchise wants Becton “back on the field” and that the OT himself wants the same thing.

Douglas continued: “I think for him attacking this offseason and coming back in the best possible shape he can be in [is key], and I expect big things from him next year… We all want Mekhi back.”

The Jets GM also told reporters that Becton’s injury delays in 2021 “wasn’t really anyone’s fault and it wasn’t Mekhi’s fault” or the doctor’s fault either. His explanation was that since the left tackle is “a bigger man,” the “process became longer than [the Jets] originally thought.”

No matter who is to blame for the blocker’s failure to remain on the field, the facts are the facts. Becton was a first-round selection in 2020. Since joining Gang Green, he has only factored in 15 games out of a possible 33 with the team — and he left a couple of those appearances early.

When on the field, he’s been solid as a legitimate force in the run game and above-average in pass protection. Becton has been charged with seven sacks and 25 quarterback pressures over 443 pass-blocking snaps. That’s 0.016 sacks and 0.056 pressures per snap.

The left tackle’s career will likely always come down to his availability, however, and no social media guarantee can change Jets fans’ minds. The only way to win back the mob is by proving it on the gridiron.

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