Next up in our positional overview series is the offensive line, a unit with moderate expectations going into the season, and has since produced moderate results. The Jets’ offensive line is one of the more experienced position groups on the team with 3 veterans–Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, and Brian Winters. Brandon Shell in his 2nd year and Wesley Johnson in his 4th year round out the squad.
In preseason, the Jets had 3 offensive line positions up for grabs: left tackle, center, and right guard. Neither Beachum, Johnson, nor Shell played particularly well in the preseason, but that may have been more of a function of Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty conducting the offense for almost every preseason snap. Both Hackenberg and Petty struggle at setting proper protections at the line of scrimmage and holding on to the ball for too long. Those two flaws from the quarterback position will make any offensive lineman look bad.
On the surface, the statistics for the Jets offensive line are mixed. They have given up 15 sacks through 5 games, which lands them tied for 11th most in the league. On the positive side, they are averaging 111.4 rushing yards per game, 11th best in the game. However, that stat can be deceiving. Apart from the one breakout performance against Jacksonville the running game has mostly stalled. In the other 4 games, the Jets gained a total of 38, 126 (although most of these came in garbage time), 30, and 34 yards on the ground. Additionally, the Jets as a team have 6 false start penalties, compared to a league average of 5.13, and 8 holding penalties, compared to a league average of 7.16.
Brian Winters, Kelvin Beachum, and Brandon Shell are all signed through at least 2019 so expect them to stick around for a few more years. James Carpenter becomes a free agent after next season, but the Jets should look into locking him up for the long term. He has been their most reliable player on the line since he was signed in 2015. Center Wesley Johnson is a free agent after this season, and the Jets should look to upgrade through the free agent market or the draft when his contract expires.