Jets’ Unsung Hero Has ‘Really Found a Home’ in New York

Nate Herbig, James Robinson

Getty New York Jets right guard Nate Herbig drive-blocks a defender for running back James Robinson.

In the NFL, sometimes a seemingly insignificant move can wind up becoming integral because of injuries and absences.

When the New York Jets claimed offensive guard Nate Herbig from the Philadelphia Eagles, it felt like overkill in an area of strength. Gang Green already signed Laken Tomlinson and brought back Dan Feeney a year after trading up to draft Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The Herbig addition made the Jets stacked at guard, but as Joe Douglas always says, you never know when your deepest position will turn into an area of need. The issues began at offensive tackle and eventually shifted “AVT” away from the interior, calling on the former Eagle to fill the void at right guard.

Then came the real calamity, Vera-Tucker’s injury in Week 7 would force him to miss the remainder of the 2022 season — and that realization graduated Herbig from fill-in to full-time starter.

Charles Davis Praises Nate Herbig After Jets Upset Bills

For the past three weeks, CBS broadcasters Ian Eagle and Charles Davis have been tasked with calling the Jets game.

Davis — an ex-NFL safety and long-time veteran in the TV world that’s worked with Fox Sports, Fox, NFL Network, and the video game franchise Madden — was very impressed by what he saw. “Things have changed,” Davis told team reporter Caroline Hendershot according to Jack Bell. “They’re going to be a hard out from here on out. These aren’t the ‘Same Old Jets’ anymore.”

In Bell’s article with the Jets official website, Davis also highlighted an underrated piece that has not been getting enough credit for what he’s been asked to do, Herbig. After noting that Saleh’s Jets like to play a “messy” and “grimy” style of football — in a good way — Davis got to talking about the offensive line and “Nasty Nate” Herbig.

“He found a way in Philly and has really found a home with the Jets,” voiced Davis about the blocker. “It took some doing, and with all the injuries [on the offensive line] you’d think there would be a lack of continuity. But what’s amazing to me is that what should be a lack of continuity has not really derailed this offensive line. These guys are coming together and getting better with every snap, not just on the practice field, but in every game.”

The Jets O-line has been especially effective in the run game, whether Breece Hall was carrying the football or newcomer James Robinson. SNY TV’s Connor Rogers called the blocking combination of wide receiver Denzel Mims, tight end C.J. Uzomah, and Herbig the “unsung heroes” of the upset over the Buffalo Bills because of their impact on the ground.

As for Davis, he’s just shocked it took Herbig this long to break through at the NFL level.

“It’s been a curious story with Herbig,” Davis told the Jets media team, “I remember him as a freshman at Stanford, he was a starter right out of the gate, this big body at an academic school. The way Stanford likes to play the game under David Shaw is they want to beat you up on the line, in the run game. The anomaly is that people think of Stanford as this genteel, intellectual, think-tank type of school, but they wore T-shirts that said ‘The Home of Intellectual Brutality.’ That was Herbig from the beginning. So, it was a stunner that he would be that guy as a freshman, then go into NFL as an undrafted free agent.”

Jets Have Blocking Decisions to Make in 2023

Let’s say Douglas re-signs a guy like Herbig in 2023, it would open up some interesting options as the Jets try and piece together a long-term starting five.

First off, Vera-Tucker proved that he could play offensive tackle at the NFL level. Do the Jets stick with the ultra-reliable AVT as a bookend upon his return? Or move him back inside across from Tomlinson? Either way, Herbig would provide sturdy depth and give the Green & White more potential solutions.

That’s important, considering center Connor McGovern is a free agent along with tackles George Fant, Cedric Ogbuehi, Mike Remmers and Greg Senat. Versatile IOL, Feeney, is yet another blocker playing on a one-year deal this season.

The Jets also have oft-injured first-rounder Mekhi Becton set to give it another go, as well as 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell — who showed some encouraging signs before his injury. Wisely, Douglas did sign veteran Duane Brown to a two-year deal.

Depending on the offseason, this could be a very similar offensive line in 2023 or a totally different one. The only certainties to start are Vera-Tucker and Tomlinson, although Brown is likely to join them.

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