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The biggest loss for the NY Jets in Week 1 came when their cornerstone left tackle, Mekhi Becton, went down with a knee injury.
After the game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the initial word was that Becton had an MCL sprain, pending an MRI to confirm the early diagnosis.
On Monday, it was officially confirmed that Becton was expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks after suffering a dislocated knee cap. He will require arthroscopic knee surgery to clean up damaged cartilage in his knee.
The Jets are going to have to move forward without Becton, no matter how long he is sidelined. The team has in-house options at the ready in veterans George Fant and Morgan Moses.
And presumably, Fant will be starting at left tackle while Moses steps in on the right side in Week 2 at home versus New England. The only other offensive tackle currently on the roster is Chuma Edoga. New York also has undrafted rookie Grant Hermanns on their practice squad.
The only other emergency option the Jets have on their roster is rookie guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, who played left tackle last season at USC. But that would be a last resort solution for a Jets team that already has quality and depth issues on the interior of their offensive line.
The NY Jets’ offensive line is a problem, with or without Mekhi Becton
The truth is that after Sunday, the Jets’ most glaring issue is their offensive line. And not only can it impede and limit Zach Wilson’s ability to succeed. But it could also end up resulting in Wilson not being able to stay healthy.
The Jets’ 2021 season is all about the progress and development of franchise quarterback Zach Wilson.
And ultimately, Wilson is not going to succeed or last an entire season if the Jets have the same type of performance from their offensive line that they experienced in their 19-14 loss to Carolina.
After Sunday’s loss, in a game where Wilson was sacked six times and hit countless other times. after the game, the rookie quarterback, who battled through adversity to throw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, said that his neck was sore and that he suffered whiplash.
One thing is clear, even though the Jets are in a youth movement, general manager Joe Douglas has to exhaust all options to ensure that his hand-picked quarterback can succeed and function in the pocket.
Nothing else matters.
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Had Becton’s injury been season-ending, a strong argument could’ve been made for the Jets to sign a proven veteran left tackle like Russell Okung, regardless of his advanced age.
Whether or not veterans like Okung would consider coming to a rebuilding team like the Jets is another story. But Douglas and his front office must leave no stones unturned, whether that means a trade for Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard or whomever.
The Jets’ search for better options and quality offensive linemen must not end. In a perfect world, the Jets are going after a premium interior player, even if it means parting ways with a veteran player like Marcus Maye. The Jets need to entertain those options.
Unfortunately, many of Douglas’ handpicked choices on the Jets line haven’t panned out thus far. Alex Lewis is at home. Two other Douglas signings, George Fant and Greg Van Roten, had miserable starts to 2021 after less-than-desirable results a year ago.
On Sunday, another Douglas signee, center Connor McGovern told the media that he attributed his unit’s meltdown in the Carolina heat to it being “early in the season.”
The Jets’ offensive line was clearly not on the same page. And it’s new offensive line coach John Benton’s job to get his unit prepared and ready to play. So part of the onus for the Jets’ failings falls on him as well.
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The bottom line is that the Jets can’t afford to mess around with the protection of Zach Wilson. The 2021 season loses all meaning if the team’s franchise quarterback is not under center taking snaps.