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Protecting Zach Wilson better makes Jets' offensive line happy

Jets guard Greg Van Roten (62) and center

Jets guard Greg Van Roten (62) and center Connor McGovern (60) stand with teammates during a break in play in the first half of an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Credit: AP/Ian Walton

The Jets’ offensive line is going into the bye week feeling much better about themselves than at the start of the season.

The front five faced plenty of criticism and scrutiny after Zach Wilson was sacked six times in Week 1 and nine more times over the next two games. But in the last two, Wilson has been sacked just three times.

Center Connor McGovern said the line is "communicating well" and "starting to flow together well" and they have as better understanding of where they need to be and when.

"It’s a pretty good feeling when you can look at the film and see some pretty good protection and you don’t have to help Zach off the ground very much," McGovern said. "It definitely feels pretty good. It doesn’t feel as good as winning does but as a unit we’re always trying to be better."

McGovern is troubled by the Jets’ slow starts, though. He said that’s a big reason the run game hasn’t gotten going — the Jets rank 30th in rushing offense — because they don’t sustain drives and are playing catch-up. The Jets have been outscored 75-13 in the first half this season.

"It’s going to be the topic of this bye week to really fix that," McGovern said of the slow starts. "That’s the biggest issue at this point. It’s fixable, which is pretty good news. But it’s still something that needs to be fixed and needs to be fixed now."

Win quicker

Tackle Sheldon Rankins said the Jets defensive line took the blame for not sacking Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday after bringing down Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill seven times the prior week.

Atlanta’s game plan was for Ryan to get the ball out fast and utilize a short-to-intermediate passing game to mitigate the Jets’ rush. Rankins expects more teams to try that and said the line needs to win their individual matchups faster.

"That’s just what it’s going to come down to," Rankins said. "Us in the D-Line room not too long ago, we just got finished having a conversation about this, just put it on us. At the end of the day, we’ll take that, we’ll take that onus, we’ll take that responsibility to win faster and pressure faster and force a quarterback into errant throws."

Two-minute drill

The Jets signed former Vikings offensive lineman Dru Samia to their practice squad and released safety Sheldrick Redwine . . . They reportedly worked out former starting guard Brandon Fusco, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2018.

New York Sports