Offensive line (Grade: B-)
Douglas must’ve had a suggestion box for New York Jets fans because the offensive line was overhauled. That, or he saw what everyone else was seeing, which was the O-line could not adequately run or pass block.
Here are all the signings and re-signings Douglas made:
- Connor McGovern (center) – 3 years, $27M (signed)
- Josh Andrews (center/guard) – 2 years, $1.35M (signed)
- Greg Van Roten (guard) – 3 years, $10.5M (signed)
- Brad Lundblade (guard) – 2 years, $1.39M (signed)
- George Fant (tackle) – 3 years, $27.3M (signed)
- Alex Lewis (guard) – 3 years, $18.6M (re-signed)
Because of the offensive line’s poor play, Darnold and Le’Veon Bell had limited protection last season. Per Football Focus, the Jets had the 28th ranked offensive line because they allowed 0.7 rushing yards before contact and 2.5 seconds or less on passing attempts. Meaning, Darnold and Bell had little to no time for a play to develop.
But in all fairness, there were games where the unit did perform well. Especially during the second half of the season when the Jets finished 6-2. But overall, the line play was abysmal.
Even though Douglas addressed the offensive line, it is saddening that he was unable to sign players like Anthony Castonzo, Ryan Glasgow, or Ryan Kelly. The strength of the O-line is the key to Darnold’s career as a quarterback. If the Jets can provide Darnold with the needed protection so he can get into a rhythm and find his receivers, then the sky is the limit for his success.
Douglas did a decent job of solidifying the offensive line. As mentioned earlier, things seem bleak because Gang Green fans expect the flashy signings instead of value acquisitions. It’s known that none of the signed linemen are Pro Bowlers, but that doesn’t mean that line hasn’t been upgraded.
The GM decided to take the cost-effective route on the line because he didn’t want bloated contracts hindering the New York Jets cap space. Also, by putting faith in unproven linemen (like Fant), is a start toward a bigger focus on player development. The Jets aren’t known as a player development team. Rather, they’re a team that overpays developed players. So Douglas is trying to transform the team culture.
The biggest concern with the revamped line is the lack of chemistry. Because COVID-19 will most likely eliminate OTAs and interfere with the start of training camp, the chemistry of the line will be hindered. I am not saying that the new offensive linemen won’t like each other, but there is a great deal of communication and trust that is required between linemen.
As written by J.P. Pelzman of Forbes:
"Incumbent offensive line coach Frank Pollack took heat last season for the line’s poor performance. Yes, the team started nine different O-line combinations because of injuries, a problem that began in August and continued until late December. And now the onus likely will be on Pollack again, to try to mold a cohesive line out of a bunch of guys who might not practice together until June or even July."
The ability for linemen to trust and communicate on their blocking assignments is the key to their success. If there isn’t enough time for the line to get comfortable with one another, Jets fans may witness a repeat of last season