The Plan the New York Jets had going into the season at Offensive Tackle has been turned upside down with constant injury and shuffling of players. With the possibility of Duane Brown Returning soon and the entire Offensive line unit underperforming relative to what we expected going into the year, it feels safe to say we have an Offensive Tackle situation on our hands.
What Was The Catalyst?
What started all the problems we have on the offensive line? Well, the easy answer would be to just blame the injuries but I think it goes a little bit deeper than that. Joe Douglas was either way too optimistic or failed to prepare for what looked like an inevitability in my eyes.
With your two projected starters coming off major knee injuries, the expectation that both your starting tackles would make it through the season was ultimately naïve. While we did address the offensive line in the fourth round of this year’s draft by drafting Max Mitchell, The consensus around Max was that he was going to need to develop to become a future tackle for the New York Jets.
With George Fant rehabbing a knee, Mekhi Becton sidelined by a bad knee injury, and now Duane Brown having a shoulder injury, the New York Jets have not been able to escape the injury bug at the tackle position. A position we thought we didn’t need to worry about going into the season has now become our biggest area of concern.
The pleasant surprise that is Max Mitchell
Max Mitchell going into the 2022 NFL draft was the highest graded offensive tackle according to PFF in all of NCAA football. With experience at left tackle and right tackle, Max Mitchell was one of my favorite prospects going into the draft. I didn’t want the New York Jets drafting a tackle before the third round and Max Mitchell fit the profile of what I wanted the New York Jets to draft perfectly. You can imagine my surprise when in the fourth round the New York Jets announced their 111th pick and it’s my guy Max Mitchell.
Now going into the season I knew that Max Mitchell needed to put on some weight to keep up with NFL Edge rushers, but that did not stop me from believing in him wholeheartedly and expecting him to compete for the right tackle position sometime this year. To be honest, my expectation would be that Max Mitchell would be competing for the right Tackle Spot by week 8, not Week 1.
Max Mitchell has started at right tackle for two games for the New York Jets and in those two games faced some of the toughest competition the NFL had to throw at him. With all pro and pro bowl players like Calais Campbell, Myles Garrett, and Jadeveon Clowney the expectation was that Max Mitchell was going to get eaten alive.
The good news is he held up his own pretty well against some of the toughest competition the NFL had to throw at him. While he still has some work to do in his game, he is performing admirably compared to what we expected from him and is showing signs and giving us hope that we have found our right tackle of the future in the fourth round.
What to do about George Fant?
We are two games into the season and we have to talk about the performance that George Fant is putting out on the field. The expectations going into the first two games were that George Fant and Laken Tomlinson, the veteran side of the offensive line would perform admirably while the right side of the offensive line would get dominated by the underweight rookie and the second-year player on a new side. no one would have expected the exact opposite. Max Mitchell and Alijah vera-tucker have actually performed very well while George Fant and Laken Tomlinson have underperformed drastically.
Going into this year everyone wanted us to extend George Fant so that he could be our left tackle of the future. I was not a part of this group. I wanted nothing to do with extending George Fant, and here’s why. At 30 years old George Fant has only had one good season in the NFL while he was a starter and that was the last year for the New York Jets. In 17 games last year George Fant allowed one sack, three hits, and 14 hurries for a total of 18 pressures all year.
This year in two games he has allowed just as many sacks and already gave up 2 hits, and 4 hurries for a total of 9 pressures. That’s almost half the amount of pressure allowed in 17 games. So what do we do when Duane Brown gets back?
The Duane Brown Of It All
Duane Brown was brought in late to be our left tackle after Mekhi Becton went down. Unfortunately, Duane Brown Hurt his shoulder and has been unable to dress for the New York Jets this season. With hopes that he’s getting better and on the mend and should be back on the roster real soon the question becomes what do you do about the left tackle position?
With Max Mitchell being the younger option and the future of the right tackle position for this football team. the question becomes do you pull Max Mitchell, right now the better of the two tackles, to play George Fant? If I’m Joe Douglas and I’m making the call I would bench George Fant.
George Fant has been in the league for seven years and only performed adequately once. at 30 years old it’s hard to expect a one-hit wonder to turn his career around and be a Dependable left tackle moving forward.
With George Fant on an expiring contract and Duane Brown extended into next year I would do everything in my power to make sure that the people who are going to be on this team next year see the field and give this team the best opportunity not only to win this year but next year as well. Also, Duane Brown has a much longer and better track record of Performing the left tackle position at a high level consistently.
Now what we do about the future of the left tackle position is up in the air and I’m not going to talk about next year’s problems in week 2 but with Duane Brown’s return on the horizon, the conversation about George Fant and his lackluster performance needs to be had.