Inexperienced, with traces of grey: Jets making ready one-for-the-ages lineup behind Joe Flacco, Duane Brown – New York Jets Weblog
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Solely seven of the 252 gamers drafted in 2008 stay on energetic NFL rosters. Two of these seven play for the New York Jets — quarterback Joe Flacco and left sort out Duane Brown. It was one of many first issues the ’08 classmates talked about when Brown signed on Aug. 15.
“We joked about it,” Brown mentioned. “It is a blessing, man. It is a blessing.”
For them, sure. For the Jets, it may not be a laughing matter.
A company that prides itself on youth — the bedrock of their complete rebuilding plan — will begin the season with a 37-year-old left sort out defending the blind aspect of a 37-year-old quarterback, assuming Zach Wilson‘s surgically repaired knee is not prepared by Week 1.
No workforce has ever began a recreation with an offensive sort out (both aspect) and a quarterback at age of 37 or older, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Info, which has place information again to 1950.
This is not how the Jets drew it up, however two knee accidents in a span of 5 days compelled the Jets to change their flight plan. First, proper sort out Mekhi Becton, who’s out for the season resulting from an avulsion fracture in his proper knee cap. Then, Wilson.
So escape the cassette tapes and parachute pants — the Jets are going old-school. At the least they’re having enjoyable with it.
“I really feel like I’m like a dad that is simple to choose on, and so they like laughing at me due to that,” Flacco mentioned of his youthful teammates, that means each participant on the workforce. “I embrace it.”
It units up an odd juxtaposition on offense. The Jets are extremely younger on the expertise positions, with working backs Michael Carter (23) and Breece Hall (21) and extensive receivers Elijah Moore (22) and Garrett Wilson (22), however the season may get derailed early if the older dudes — Flacco and Brown — fail to do their jobs.
The Jets averted the doomsday, season-ending state of affairs with Zach Wilson, who is anticipated to overlook a couple of month, however the harm jeopardizes the potential of a quick begin and threatens to erase the constructive momentum from a productive offseason. It is essential to maintain the fan base pleased and , displaying this may not be one other “Identical Previous Jets” season. They’ve misplaced 12 straight within the month of September, with the newest win coming in Sam Darnold‘s first NFL begin on Sept. 10, 2018.
“Constructive Vibes Solely” is the T-shirt that coaches and gamers put on round coaching camp. Go oh-fer September, and that shirt shall be out of fashion.
“We haven’t even scratched the floor on adversity but,” mentioned at all times optimistic coach Robert Saleh. “I feel the saying is you get three adversarial moments a yr — everybody does — so we’re nonetheless within the thick of it. I like our group. … I like the make-up of this workforce and its aggressive nature.”
In some methods, they’re fortunate to have a participant like Flacco, a Tremendous Bowl MVP whose unflappable demeanor sends a “loosen up — don’t be concerned” message to the younger gamers. He has misplaced his successful contact in recent times — 2-11 as a starter since his ultimate season with the Ravens in 2018 — however his résumé nonetheless sparkles. He received a Tremendous Bowl with the Ravens a decade in the past, when his youngest teammates had been of their preteens. They noticed him on TV, taking part in nearly flawlessly towards the San Francisco 49ers in Tremendous Bowl XLVII. Now he is on their sideline and of their huddle.
Naturally, they ask him in regards to the “previous” days, questioning what it was wish to play with Professional Soccer Corridor of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. He will get these questions on a regular basis, and Flacco obliges them with tales. That they open towards the Ravens is a scrumptious storyline if he is nonetheless the QB1.
“I’ve watched him my entire life,” Moore mentioned of Flacco. “After I acquired right here, I used to be amazed it was him. It’s best to hear among the guys on the sideline. They’re like, ‘That is Joe Flacco.’ He is a legend.”
Now he might need to be a brief savior, charged with steadying a star-crossed franchise. Issues began to unravel at about 11 o’clock on a sweltering Aug. 8 morning, when Becton limped to the locker room. Decided to maintain his second-year quarterback protected, common supervisor Joe Douglas hit the open market and signed one of the crucial completed tackles within the sport. Brown is a five-time Professional Bowl choice who began each recreation final season for the Seattle Seahawks.
However he turns 37 on Aug. 30, which in all probability explains why one of the crucial completed tackles within the sport nonetheless did not have a workforce in the midst of August.
“In the event you ask my opponents, they will let you know I am taking part in at a excessive degree,” Brown mentioned. “However there aren’t many individuals that play to this age, so these criticisms are well-warranted. I am not going to speak about what I’ll do; I simply get on the sphere and show it. That is what I plan to do.”
Brown performed properly final season, permitting eight sacks and committing solely 5 penalties in 969 snaps, in keeping with Professional Soccer Focus. Not unhealthy, contemplating he performed in a division that included a number of elite edge rushers, together with Nick Bosa (San Francisco 49ers), Von Miller (Los Angeles Rams) and Chandler Jones (Arizona Cardinals).
Have a look at the tape, and you will notice that three of the eight may’ve been protection sacks. Solely one of many sacks got here on a bull rush (Whitney Mercilus, Green Bay Packers). He acquired beat a few occasions to the surface, and as soon as on a spin transfer, nevertheless it nonetheless was a powerful yr.
“He has grow to be an awesome technician,” mentioned Jets offensive line coach John Benton, who coached Brown from 2008 to 2013 with the Houston Texans. “That has created his longevity and success.”
Factor is, Brown’s odometer has greater than 12,000 profession snaps on it, so the engine may blow at any time. Since 2017, solely 4 offensive linemen within the 35-and-up class signed in July or later, in keeping with Sports activities Data Options. There is a purpose why it does not occur typically.
Not solely is age an element, however so is the calendar. Nonetheless entering into soccer form, Brown has but to take part in workforce drills and will not play Monday evening towards the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). There are solely 10 practices remaining earlier than they face the Ravens in Week 1.
The beginning 5 on the offensive line nonetheless have not had a full follow collectively, and that would spell hassle with two new gamers (Brown and left guard Laken Tomlinson) and two gamers studying new positions (proper guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and proper sort out George Fant). The one holdover from final yr in the identical place is middle Connor McGovern.
Benton acknowledged the “sense of urgency,” including, “It is crucial that we work collectively — lots — for the continuity difficulty.”
The Jets wager on Becton, their 2020 first-round decide, to remain wholesome after he missed nearly your entire 2021 season resulting from knee surgical procedure. The choice backfired. Immediately, Becton, one among Douglas’ key constructing blocks, has an unsure future.
With restricted in-house choices, Douglas turned to Brown, necessitating Fant’s transfer again to proper sort out, his 2020 place. A pure left sort out, he cannot be thrilled with the Eleventh-hour change, however he took the excessive highway, saying, “It’s important to be a professional in sure conditions.”
Mainly, the Jets are taking part in with two left tackles and two left guards. No disrespect to Flacco, however the reshuffled line needs to be solidified by Wilson’s return. His well being and growth imply the whole lot to the franchise, which made him the focus of their rebuild by drafting him second total in 2021. If Wilson does not enhance on a disappointing rookie yr, will probably be an indictment of Douglas and Saleh.
“He had plenty of nice development final yr,” Saleh mentioned, “and we’re anticipating to have continued development this yr.”
Lots will rely on Brown, his blindside protector. The 2008 draft hasn’t been type to the Jets, who used the sixth total decide on all-time bust Vernon Gholston. Years later, they dipped into the ’08 pool once more, buying and selling for former first-round sort out Jeff Otah. He flunked the bodily, aborting the commerce. In 2016, they tried to switch retired left sort out D’Brickashaw Ferguson with one other ’08 first-rounder, Ryan Clady. The commerce backfired; his physique broke down nearly instantly.
As soon as once more, they’re counting on ’08ers, Brown and Flacco.
“I don’t view myself as an previous individual,” Flacco mentioned, “however every so often, when these guys come as much as you and say one thing to you, I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, you suppose I’m like 50 years previous. I acquired it.’”
He was smiling.