The Jets are on the up-and-up after a dreadful 2022 finish. There are new weapons on either side of the ball plus a new offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett. Oh, and Aaron Rodgers is also in town.
It’s indeed a great time to be a Gang Green fan.
But the roster isn’t perfect by any stretch, even with Rodgers manning the most important position. There’s still a glaring issue – multiple, actually – at offensive tackle. And the problems could rear their ugly head this season, especially after the team missed out on reinforcements in the first round.
The health (or lack thereof). The Jets have three offensive tackles currently rehabbing or coming off 2022 injuries. Duane Brown underwent rotator cuff surgery at the end of last season, and per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, isn’t committing to the start of training camp. Mekhi Becton has played one game in the last two years and missed all of 2022 with a kneecap fracture. Rookie fourth-rounder Carter Warren is dealing with a knee injury from college.
This leaves second-year player Max Mitchell, veteran pickup Billy Turner, and free-agent newcomer Yodny Cajuste as healthy, potential starters at the moment.
In a perfect world, Brown, Becton, and Warren will be ready for the regular season. But this isn’t a perfect world.
Brown is turning 38 in August, and Becton has played only 15 of a possible 50 regular-season games. So there’s no confirming the tackle room will be healthy come September.
The inexperience. Brown and Turner are veterans in this league, but the former is in his late 30s and Turner might be a preseason cut who was brought in for insurance/competition purposes.
Besides those two, there’s Becton, Mitchell, Warren, Cajuste, and Greg Senat, who have a combined 24 starts over a combined 13 seasons in the league.
That won’t fare well with an older quarterback like Rodgers, who must stay upright to utilize his immense talent and versatile supporting cast.
Sidenote: This lack of experience might force head coach Robert Saleh and the staff to actually keep Turner, given what he could provide to the group as a reserve.
The downside of the LT battle. Brown has played left tackle his entire career and doesn’t seem interested in switching to the right side. At OTAs last week, he told the media the right tackle position is “not something I’ve practiced over the years. Not to say I can’t do it, but I’ve been solidified [at left tackle] for a while.”
A healthy Becton could play the right side but would be unhappy doing so. The 2020 first-round pick tweeted (and deleted) “I. AM. A. LEFT. TACKLE!!!” last month.
The Jets will have a competition for the role in training camp. And with that will come an unhappy teammate. Plus potential struggles early in the regular season. If Brown and Becton are both true left tackles, then a sudden switch to the right side ahead of Week 1 could mean inconsistency on that side of the line.
August’s battle for the starting left tackle spot should be interesting, but there could certainly be a downside to it.