New York Jets: Osemele injury puts Gang Green in a bind

New York Jets guard Kelechi Osemele will miss the rest of 2019 due to injury. Gang Green’s problem area, the offensive line, just took a huge hit.

He was supposed to be the cornerstone of a new and improved offensive line. Now, after less than half-a-season, New York Jets guard Kelechi Osemele is done for the rest of 2019 due to a shoulder injury that requires surgery to repair. His loss creates a big hole for an already understaffed O-Line.

To be upfront, the New York Jets are bad up front. How bad? Real Bad. Diehard Gang Green fans won’t be very surprised at the following numbers because they have seen all of it this season. First, the basics. Despite having Le’Veon Bell, one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL, the Jets are tied for last with a 3.1 average yards per carry. They are also tied for 30th with 25 sacks allowed, but dead last with an average of 5.0 sacks allowed per game.

Football Outsiders has some advanced metrics that paint an even gloomier picture. The Jets like to run between the tackles about 60 percent of the time. With Osemele in the lineup, they rank dead last in production for those runs. Additionally, they are 31st in terms of getting stuffed at the line, with their running backs getting either no yards or losing yards, 25 percent of the time (thank you Bengals).

The pass blocking isn’t any better. In Adjusted Sack Rate (roughly sacks per pass play), The New York Jets are at 14.6 percent, more than double the NFL average of 7.0 percent. While some of the onus can be hung on quarterback Sam Darnold‘s replacement Luke Falk, the majority of the blame falls on a porous offensive line.

It will get much worse with a lesser player in Osemele’s spot. That isn’t a swipe at Alex Lewis, Tom Compton, or anyone else General Manager Joe Douglas finds on the street. This is the NFL, if there was someone better, he would be playing right now. That’s how it works.

Numbers one, two, and three on the New York Jets to-do list are to protect Sam Darnold. With Osemele done for the year, that job just got much harder. Their best option is probably a trade, Gang Green has all seven of their picks in the 2020 draft. Sacrificing a later round pick to defend their most valuable asset would be a prudent course of action for Douglas to take.

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Osemele came to the Jets this spring in a pre-draft trade with Oakland. His cap hit for next year, the final year of his contract, is estimated to be $11.7M. Depending on how his recovery goes, Douglas and Head Coach Adam Gase may have more decisions to make about the left guard position in the next six months.