For Rodgers and the Jets, It Will All Start Up Front

Joe Namath has John Schmitt, Randy Rasmussen, Dave Herman, Bob Talamini, and most importantly, Winston Hill at left tackle in front of him.


The line was well tuned and respected as one of the best in the league. They were a key to the Jets’ last championship 54 years ago.


Now, here comes Aaron Rodgers with the team’s best recognized chance to win another title, and end the long drought.


Who does he have in front of him?


Duane Brown – who is 38 – is at left tackle with Laken Tomlinson at guard. Rookie and second-round pick Joe Tippmann is at center. Alijah Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton – both who missed last season with injuries –are scheduled to open on the right side.


Is the current line as good as the past one? In late June, it is hard to say. On paper, the nod has to go to Namath’s. 


Protecting the quarterback –especially Rodgers – is monumental.


For every team, it simply all begins with the line. Ask Namath, as well as other Jets’ quarterbacks that experienced success deep into the postseason like Vinnie Testaverde and Mark Sanchez. 


Having new pieces like Rodgers, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and the thought of adding Dalvin Cook creates a potential offense that could score 30 to 40 points a game.


Yet, can this Jets’ offensive line provide enough protection or open evenough holes?


Last season, the Jets allowed 42 sacks, and Rodgers was sacked 32 times.


He had an under-pressure completion rate of 67.9 as compared to 123.7 in 2021. Also, Rodgers ranked 10th with a 64.6 completion rate, 18th with a 64.4 percent adjusted completion rate, 11th with 6.8 yards per attempt, 11th in touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 23rd with a 69.4 passer rating.


Tomlinson was consistent last season, and Vera-Tucker was impressive in his rookie season before an injury shelved him last season. Ex-Redskin Wes Schewitzer was brought aboard for depth.There isn’t a concern there.


However, there is a concern at the tackles where Becton has missed the last two seasons with knee injuries. He also has encountered weight issues that have slowed his progress since he was the team’s top overall pick in 2020.


But the mammoth 6-7, 330-pound Becton has stated that he is “confident” and “excited” to prove his worth this season. In fact, it will be a boom or bust year for him.


On the other side, Brown proved to be a valuable pick-up, and settled in at left tackle after George Fant went down with injuries last year. Fant is another question, as the Jets shied away from re-signing him after they didn’t feel confident about his recovery. 


Fant is still on the free-agent market, and he again can be an invaluable insurance policy up front. Rookie Max Mitchell was plugged in, and he was effective. Ex-Giant Mike Remmers saw time off the practice squad last year, and he is a free agent. Former Titan left tackle Taylor Lewan can be an option, and former Giant and Cardinal Justin Pugh could provide some depth at guard.


 Tippmann is the wild card at center, and he’ll have every opportunity to win the starting spot. Veteran Connor McGovern, who played a leader role the past two seasons, also is back if the rookie develops slowly.


On paper, the Jets’ offensive weapons look solid and would make any fantasy owner drool. 


Still, Namath found out it all started up front. Now, Rodgers will too.


About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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