Last season, the New York Jets averaged just 8.7 yards per pass completion on the road, the worst mark in the entire NFL.
The common denominator in most of the team’s struggles was the offensive line play and that was no exception in the stat above. In fact, the o-line allowed 35 sacks in 474 plays on the road, compared to 17 in 482 plays at home. Under constant duress away from MetLife Stadium, Luke Falk (in the first two road games) and Sam Darnold (in the last six) were able to muster an average of just 205.6 passing yards per contest along with a 61.7% completion rate and 76.3 quarterback rating. Most importantly, New York went 2-6 in those contests and their last victory came in a meaningless battle with the Buffalo Bills’ second-teamers in the regular-season finale.
Heading into 2020, those numbers all need to improve if New York expects to earn a playoff berth. At +365 to make the postseason, per DraftKings, odds makers certainly believe the Jets have an uphill battle, despite the offseason additions.
To refresh your memory, New York selected left tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick and tackle Cameron Clark in the 4th Round of the 2020 NFL Draft. They also went out and signed Connor McGovern (15th-best left guard per Pro Football Focus), Greg Van Roten (10th-best center per PFF) and George Fant in free agency to completely overhaul the unit. Guard Alex Lewis and right tackle Chuma Edoga are the only returning players who could realistically earn a starting role. The Jets tried to find as much offensive line help as they could this offseason by targeting the consensus picks for the best offensive linemen available.
The new offensive line will be immediately tested in their first three road contests. In Week 1, they’ll square off against a fearsome Bills front seven in Buffalo. In Week 3, they’ll have to contain a new-look Indianapolis Colts group that now features DeForest Buckner and in Week 6, they’ll travel to San Diego to take on Joey Bosa and company. Therefore, we will have a pretty solid sense of whether or not this new group can protect Darnold heading into the second half of the year. Early in the year the Jets could be high on our list for NFL picks against the spread if the line can do their job and protect Darnold.
If they’re able to give him time in the pocket, New York should reap the benefits of the third-year QB’s development. If not, their struggles will continue.
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