When it comes to a recipe for building a playoff-caliber team, I have a very simple philosophy: Build offensive and defensive lines that are good enough to beat good teams, and have a quality quarterback. At the very least, that gets you to good, and you can eventually make the jump to great.
I do believe the New York Jets improved both of their lines to the point where they could be competitive based on my criteria above. Adding guard Laken Tomlinson this offseason to pair with center Connor McGovern shored up their offensive line prior to training camp. In my mind, their O-line was good enough to compete before they lost tackle Mekhi Becton to injury. Now, they’ve been forced to invest in an older, descending player in Duane Brown to replace Becton. It’s a trickle-down move that forced left tackle George Fant (who I also believe is overrated) back to the right side.
All of this maneuvering can only hurt the Jets’ offensive line productivity, especially early in the season.
The old cliche that “the best friend of a young quarterback is a running game” is somewhat misconstrued. Put more accurately, I’d say, “the best friend of a young quarterback is a great offensive line,” since even the smartest young quarterbacks need a little bit more time to process everything around them.
In order for young quarterbacks to succeed, they need to make the right decisions when they throw the ball and be capable of reading the defense before the snap. I never saw those things from Zach Wilson from his college tape at BYU.
The best quarterbacks (young and old) are accurate passers with a lightning-fast ability to process information. In my opinion, Wilson didn’t demonstrate either of those traits in college. He hasn’t done so in his limited NFL experience, either. For further proof, see the interception below from Week 1 in the preseason, where he completely forgets about the off-ball linebacker.
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2022
Although I feel bad saying this, because I personally know a lot of Jets fans, I still think that team is a long way from competing. Additionally, the Jets are in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. With two teams from the AFC East making the playoffs last season and a much-improved roster in Miami, New York will have a challenge just finishing in third place in their own division, let alone making a run at the playoffs.
Moving forward, they need to make a lot of really sound decisions and hit on a few draft picks to become a top team in the AFC. Frankly, I have to be wrong about Wilson’s ability as well for that to happen.