The Jets’ offensive line looked horrific in Week 1, but Robert Saleh didn’t want to blame one unit for his team’s 19-14 loss to Carolina.
The Panthers were constantly in the Jets’ backfield and finished with six sacks and 10 quarterback hits. Zach Wilson was consistently running for his life behind the Jets’ line of scrimmage and the rushing attack couldn’t eclipse the 50-yard mark.
Despite the poor showing, Saleh refused to point figures at just the offensive line.
“There’s a lot of things that are involved in protection,” Saleh said after the game. “I’m never going to just blame the offensive line, especially when you look at the first half when a lot of those breakdowns happened.”
Saleh explained that route-running, Wilson holding onto the football, and blitz packages by the defense all played a role in the Jets’ lack of time behind the line of scrimmage.
“It’s a collective effort,” Saleh added, “not just on the offensive line.”
Center Connor McGovern noted the Panthers’ decision to blitz Wilson more because he’s a rookie quarterback.
“It’s early in the season and especially with a young quarterback, they’re going to eat you up,” McGovern said after the game. “It’s nothing we didn’t prepare for but when a team is blitzing you every snap, [the protection] might be a little softer than normal. It’s kind of what we expected and what we prepared for, we just have to execute better.”
It doesn’t help that second-year tackle Mekhi Becton left the field on a cart with a potentially serious knee injury. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Becton may have only suffered an MCL sprain, but he’ll likely miss time no matter what. He had already been recovering from plantar fasciitis this summer.
Regardless of who’s to blame for Sunday’s struggles, the Jets must correct their blocking woes if they want to stay competitive and keep Wilson from serious injury. Whether the fixes come from coaching or performance, something must change for the Jets or this will become a weekly occurrence for a young team.
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