The Jets’ offensive line has been a carousel all year, and the injury to Max Mitchell in Week Four’s victory over Pittsburgh is going to make it that much harder for Joe Douglas and the offense to field a line that gives Zach the time he needs to make plays. Who are we likely to see against Miami this weekend; and out of all this chaos, what is emerging as our best O-Line combination?
A Comedy Of Injuries
Things never work out the way you plan. Particularly in a sport where very large men collide with other very large men 70+ times a game; injuries are going to happen, and team front offices need to plan for that. With the Jets though, it does feel to fans like we’ve been hit slightly harder than average by injuries on the offensive line this year. That’s led to numerous shifting and changes which is never good when you need that part of your team working in concert.
Looking at it in summary is quite frightening:
Jets announce starting lineup as Fant at LT and Becton at RT.
Becton gets hurt in training camp.
Jets signed Duane Brown to play LT; Fant moves to RT.
Before Week One Brown hurts his shoulder. Fant moves back to LT and fourth round rookie Max Mitchell comes in at RT.
Fant gets injured in Week Three (speculation is that he’s been playing injured all season).
RG, Alijah Vera-Tucker, moves to LT in a surprise for the Week Four game. Nate Herbig comes in at RG off the bench.
Max Mitchell gets injured during the Pittsburgh game meaning Connor McDermott has to come in at RT.
Out Of The Ashes
Adversity has, it seems, brought out the best in the Jets. Rookie Max Mitchell outplayed all expectations of him, holding his own against the rest of the rookie class through his first three games. While Saleh has said that Mitchell’s injury is “not season-ending” we can expect to not see him for a few weeks.
Robert Saleh said Max Mitchell is "probably" out this week. Quincy Williams is doubtful. Breece Hall and Zach Wilson (ankle) are dealing with "nicks and bruises" and will be limited today. #Jets — Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) October 5, 2022
AVT may be the Jets’ best player, and best draft pick of Joe Douglas’s tenure (sorry, Seth Walder). He was having a standout start to his second year at guard after moving from the left to the right side of the line, and then he took over at LT against the Steelers and played a solid game. The Jets kept this move so quiet I think most fans didn’t notice he was there until Mitchell’s injury brought McDermott off the bench.
Robert Saleh said AVT "was fantastic" in his switch to LT. Saleh was very pleased and said it speaks to AVT's versatility. — Caroline Hendershot (@cghendy) October 3, 2022
The team was clearly happy with AVT at LT and it’s likely right now that with Brown still coming back from injury, and Fant and Mitchell out for a few more weeks, we’re going to see him there again.
The Jets did sign two new tackles to the roster in the past weeks: Texans practice squad player, a former first-round pick for the Bengals, Cedric Ogbuehi; and veteran tackle Mike Remmers. Fans should temper any expectations they have of these signings though. Both are likely better options than Connor McDermott, and with Remmers, in particular, being experienced at right tackle one possibility for Sunday against Miami is that we see AVT at LT and Remmers at RT.
When the injuries abate and the Jets have everyone back healthy (bar Becton who is out for the year), what are the Jets’ best options on the line now that we’ve gotten to see what everyone has to offer? I put that to the good people over at the Jets Lounge this week (thanks to everyone who responded) to see what people thought after four weeks:
Hi Jets fans! If all tackles were healthy (bar Becton) what combo would you play? — Coffee’n’Jets (@gothbungy) October 4, 2022
The results probably shouldn’t be surprising. Although we haven’t seen Brown yet this year, his body of work is there for all to see, and Fant has struggled mightily in pass protection this year. Mitchell’s emergence is hopeful for fans that he can hold the RT spot and perhaps give the team one less issue to fix next off-season.
It’ll be interesting to see what the opinions are after Miami if AVT can show out against the fish; if he performs at LT again that’ll give the Jets an interesting decision to make once Brown is ready to go.