Adam Gase has drawn the line with the Jets' offensive line.
Gase has challenged and sent a message to the struggling unit that they better come ready to practice starting Wednesday because changes are looming. Some of the veteran group are playing for their jobs right now.
“We're going to work through that this week and kind of figure out what's best for us to do on Sunday,” Gase said. “I would just say this: All those guys know that we're coming in this week, we're competing and we're going to put the five guys that we think give us our best chance out there — not really sure who that's going to be quite yet.”
Gase came into the season with the belief that the offensive line would be a strength of the Jets. The additions of former Pro Bowl left tackle Kelechi Osemele and Ryan Kalil, a two-time first-team All-Pro center, were supposed to bolster the line and help provide protection for Sam Darnold and create holes for Le’Veon Bell.
But the offensive line has been arguably the Jets’ second-biggest issue behind illness and injuries, and Gase promised he would take a long look at it during last week’s bye.
The Jets rank last in the league in total offense, points, yards per play, first downs, third-down efficiency and passing, and have allowed the fifth-most sacks.
Being forced to start former practice squad quarterback Luke Falk — who could get his second straight nod this week against the Eagles with Darnold still not cleared for contact after his bout with mono — has contributed to the Jets’ offensive woes.
But the Jets are also 28th in rushing yards and 29th in rushing yards per attempt, and Bell has played all but seven offensive snaps.
“There are definitely some things that we have to clean up,” Gase said. “There are some things that we have to clean up from a coaching aspect. There are some things that we've got to clean up from a play-caller perspective. I just think that, really, going forward, what we need to do is take what we're practicing and the way we're practicing and the speed we're practicing with and really transfer that over to Sundays, which we haven't done yet.
“I think, really, we've just got to keep looking to figure out what are the best five guys for us.”
Gase has used four offensive linemen for every snap: Osemele, left guard Kelvin Beachum, right guard Brian Winters and right tackle Brandon Shell. Kalil has been in on 171 of 189 snaps. Jonotthan Harrison played the other 18.
Going with Harrison could be a move that Gase is considering. Harrison was the starting center, and is someone Darnold is very comfortable with, before general manager Joe Douglas convinced Kalil to come out of retirement early in training camp. Kalil didn’t play in the preseason because the Jets didn’t want to risk any injury with the 13th-year lineman.
According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Beachum has been their best pass blocker, winning his matchup 94.1 percent of the time. Next Gen Stats declare a “win” when a lineman sustains his block for 2.5 seconds or longer. The league average is 89 percent. Only Beachum and Shell (89.6) are above league average.
The other linemen Gase could turn to are veterans Tom Compton and Alex Lewis and rookie Chuma Edoga. You can justify any move at this point because all five have underperformed at one point or another.
“When you're 0-3 and things stay the same, then that's our fault,” Gase said. “We've got to figure out what the best thing for us to do moving forward.”
Gase also was very critical of himself and his play calling. He has been touted as a creative offensive coach, but that hasn’t been on display in his first three games with the Jets. Gase said he needs to do a better job with his game plan overall, and making sure the quarterback’s first option is open more often than not.
“I feel like, so far, that has not been the case,” Gase said. “I haven't done a very good job of making sure that that happens for the quarterback.
“I feel like, they've had to work through too many progressions and that's something that I'm really looking at for myself to say, 'OK, I need to make sure that these guys are getting number one popping free.’ They can get the ball out. They get good completions. They get into a rhythm that will help the rest of the group get into a rhythm.”