It's no secret that the Jets don't have a great offensive line. Josh McCown praised this unit as a "lunchpail group" after the Chiefs game. However, they played more like the Garbage Pail Kids at times on Sunday.
The Jets currently have two inexperienced starters and three with good experience who are all underperforming. Maybe those veterans are less than 100 percent or perhaps they are struggling because they're having to overcompensate for weaknesses elsewhere on the line, but it's clear upgrades are needed.
While a few players have missed time, the current configuration has started nine games together, so they should by now be developing some good cohesion and chemistry. In fact, the left tackle, left guard and center have played every snap together, so they should be tightly attuned to one another. However, on some of the plays in this game, they behaved like a group who've never competed together as a unit.
If the Jets have a talent deficiency in terms of the individuals on their line, that's one thing. If you put a hat on a hat and your linemen are losing individual match-ups, you can try to coach them up or give them help if they're truly overmatched.
However, in Sunday's game, there were some key plays where somebody was completely unaccounted for.
Let's review some examples:
It's never good when three guys are double-teamed and one is unblocked, but that's what happened on Brandon Marshall's strip, which kicked off the Jets' familiar downwards spiral.
Marshall's initial responsibility is obviously Matt Forté but when he stays in to block, Marshall comes on a delayed blitz and makes the play on McCown.
Come on guys, it's the holiday season: EXPECT DELAYS.
The left side of the line needs to be alert to this, so either James Carpenter can take control of his man and allow Kelvin Beachum to pass him off and pick up the delayed rush. Alternatively, Carpenter would need to wait a bit longer before he commits to double-teaming that man, so that he can drop off himself. They both seem oblivious to the threat.
On this next play, Shelby Harris, who was a Jet last season, busts into the backfield for a sack. Impressive stuff, but an easy play really because the red sea parts as Wesley Johnson blocks down and Brian Winters helps out on the tackle's man:
That's not the first time something like this has happened. A similar mix-up between Brandon Shell and Winters led to McCown's fumble and Luke Kuechly's touchdown that basically cost the Jets the Panthers game.
It was an issue in the running game too. On one third down draw play they left a defensive tackle completely unblocked so he could blow it up. There was also a couple of plays like this one:
Once again a linebacker explodes unblocked into the backfield. Mostly this is just a product of the fact the defense wasn't at all concerned about the pass so they had plenty of men in the box. However, as Brian Winters pulls left and blocks a man at the second level, he allowed the player who made the tackle to run right past him. You'd like to think he could adjust on the fly and block that player so that at least the back has a fighting chance at breaking a tackle in the hole.
Ideally, Bryce Petty should have audibled out of that play, although it's unrealistic to expect that from him, especially without having had preparation time during the week.
There's multiple reasons why the Jets lost today's game so heavily and the fact that we're highlighting breakdowns on the offensive line here doesn't mean that was the main issue. However, it does have wider reaching effects in terms of the offense's ability to sustain drives. This in turn leads to the defense being on the field more, which is not ideal at altitude.
Don't worry, though. We'll be focusing on some of those other issues tomorrow.