next month when the Jets open training camp, but what is going on in front of him could hold the key to the team’s season.
The Jets offensive line is like a puzzle scattered on the dining room table, waiting to be put together. How well Robert Saleh and his coaches can solve that puzzle is going to be critical for the 2023 Jets.
Like every quarterback, Rodgers needs protection. The Jets offensive line remains a mystery.
The only starter you truly feel 100 percent positive about right now is right guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, and even he is coming back from an injury. The rest of the group has questions.
Let’s take a deeper look at the offensive line, position by position, from the biggest question mark to the smallest.
It is going to be very interesting to see how the Jets even approach this competition in training camp.
Do Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton split time at left tackle? Do the two players alternate between left and right tackle?
Neither player considers himself a right tackle. Saleh and new offensive line coach Keith Carter are going to have to navigate that.
My read is that Brown has the inside track at the starting job.
Every time Saleh speaks about him, he gushes. Brown won a lot of fans inside the Jets building last year when he could have sat out and collected his money.
“You guys know I love Duane. He for the team in terms of just what he sacrificed,” Saleh said. “Like I said, last year his money was guaranteed, didn’t have to play a down … and he didn’t have to subject his body to what he did, but he stepped on the field, played as many games as he possibly could with torn rotator cuffs and did a really nice job, so he’s going to fight for it.
“He doesn’t believe he’s entitled to anything. He believes he’s got to earn everything, and there’s a reason why he’s played for so long and has had so much success. I mean, look at him: He’s a brick house. He can still play as many years as he’s willing to play.”
The ”entitled” part of that quote felt like a dig at Becton, who recently told Newsday he believes he should be the left tackle even after missing almost all of the last two seasons.
I think Becton has an uphill battle to be the left tackle. He irritated a lot of people inside the Jets and blaming the coaches for .
There is some optimism around Becton after he dropped a lot of weight this offseason and seems committed to being a professional for the first time in his career. But with that optimism, .
I don’t think the Jets are going to be counting on Becton entering camp. If he surprises them, they’ll be thrilled.
Brown had shoulder surgery after last season, and he indicated last week he is not sure whether he will be ready for the start of training camp.
If Brown starts camp unable to practice, that could open the door for Becton.
That leads us to the other side. Becton may not consider himself a right tackle, but his best shot at starting comes on the right side.
Brown is too experienced to move to the right side. The Jets moved Becton to the right side last year before his knee injury. Why wouldn’t they do it again?
Becton won’t be handed a job, though. He’ll have to beat out a cast that includes Max Mitchell, who impressed as a rookie last year, Billy Turner, who has played with Rogers in the past, and Carter Warren, a fourth-round pick this year.
In the end, I think Becton will win this job. He is more talented than the players he is competing against. The biggest question is whether Becton can stay on the field. If he can make it through training camp healthy, there is no reason not to expect Becton to be the starting right tackle.
One of the bigger surprises this offseason to me was the Jets re-signing Connor McGovern right before the draft.
It felt as if the club was ready to move on from McGovern after his three years as a starter. But the Jets struck out on some free-agent options and .
A few days later, they .
This sets up a competition to watch in camp. McGovern obviously has the experience, and probably will start in the lead as the incumbent. But you have to think the Jets and see what he can do.
It will be interesting to hear what Rodgers thinks about playing with a rookie center versus a veteran. The quarterback could swing this competition in someone’s favor if he chooses to.
Laken Tomlinson is back for his second year with the Jets, but he is coming off a disappointing first season. The Jets have to hope Tomlinson can bounce back and prove he deserves the big-money contract they handed him last year.
There is no one on the roster who makes me think the Jets can give Tomlinson a short leash. Wes Schweitzer, Trystan Colon and Tippmann are likely going to be the backup guards. Unless the Jets think Tippmann is a better guard than a center, Tomlinson’s spot is secure — even if he stumbles again.
Vera-Tucker has been on the field practicing during the spring, and seems to be all the way back from .
Vera-Tucker showed what he is capable of last year, starting at three different positions along the line. The Jets love his versatility. But they believe he can be an All-Pro right guard, so that’s where he’ll play.
Want to catch a game? The Jets schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.
Zach the backup
One question I keep getting from people is whether Zach Wilson actually will be the No. 2 quarterback behind Rodgers.
Yes, he will be. Believe it.
The Jets want Wilson to get the maximum amount of reps this spring and in training camp, and being the backup quarterback is the way to do it. The No. 3 or No. 4 quarterback gets very few reps in practice.
Wilson is better than Tim Boyle and Chris Streveler are. This is not a situation where there is someone who should even be challenging him for the backup job.
Wilson also should get plenty of playing time in the preseason. Rodgers is not expected to play in those games.
Like every team in the NFL, the Jets don’t want to see their backup play this season. But if Rodgers gets hurt, you’ll see No. 2 back under center.
Rodgers took over as a full-time starter in Green Bay for the 2008 season after the Packers traded Brett Favre to the Jets. Since then, he has put up some big numbers.
Here are the top 10 quarterbacks in total passing yards since 2008 and how Rodgers stacks up:
1. Tom Brady: 62,844 yards, 452 TDs/126 INTs
2. Matt Ryan: 62,792 yards, 381 TDs/183 INTs 3. Drew Brees (through 2020): 59,169 yards, 437 TDs/161 INTs 4. Aaron Rodgers (2008-22): 58,726 yards, 474 TDs/104 INTs 5. Philip Rivers (through 2020): 56,752 yards, 377 TDs/184 INTs 6. Ben Roethlisberger (through 2021): 52,415 yards, 334 TDs/157 INTs 7. Matthew Stafford (from 2009): 52,082 yards, 333 TDs/169 INTs 8. Eli Manning (through 2019): 45,638 yards, 289 TDs/180 INTs 9. Joe Flacco: 42,320 yards, 232 TDs/147 INTs 10. Russell Wilson (from 2012): 40,583 yards, 308 TDs/98 INTs (began career in 2012)