Adam Gase said the Jets could use more depth at center, but he’s very comfortable with Jonotthan Harrison starting and playing that position.
A big reason is because of how comfortable quarterback Sam Darnold is with Harrison snapping the ball to him.
“I like where we’re at right now,” Gase said last week during Jets’ rookie orientation. “I think Jonotthan’s done a great job. I feel he really does a good job of leading that group. I think Sam feels very comfortable with him. That group is coming together well. Watching them work day in and day out together, it’s very encouraging. I like the attitude those guys have. I love the work ethic they have.”
The Jets re-signed Harrison after he played all 16 games on the line last season, including eight as starting center.
Harrison replaced incumbent starter Spencer Long, who had difficulty snapping the ball because of an injury on his right hand. Harrison did a good job in the role last year and built chemistry with Darnold. The Jets ultimately waived Long. The Bills signed Long, as well as former Chiefs center Mitch Morse.
The Jets had eyes on Morse and Matt Paradis in free agency. Paradis left the Broncos and signed a three-year, $27-million deal with the Panthers. There were reports that Gase wanted general manager Mike Maccagnan to pursue Paradis more aggressively and it led to a rift between the two. Gase denied that last week.
The Jets have revamped and strengthened their offensive line, adding former Raven and Raider Kelechi Osemele. The Jets acquired the two-time Pro Bowl left guard in a deal with the Raiders at the start of free agency.
But it was somewhat surprising the Jets didn’t sign a more proven center in free agency since it was widely considered an area of need. This doesn’t mean the Jets still won't pursue more help on the offensive line.
Gase said one season when he was on the Broncos staff, they went through four centers because of injuries in OTAs and training camp. So he doesn’t believe you can ever have enough depth.
But Gase said he has total confidence that Harrison, a sixth-year pro, can handle the job. Darnold’s comfort level with Harrison is a critical component in this.
“It’s very important when you have a center that can lead the charge and do a lot of the things that they need to do, and he can take over where the quarterback can kind of put his mind other places sometimes,” Gase said. “He can get the receivers lined up and make sure the backs and tight ends and his communication with those guys is crystal clear. Jonotthan handles all the rest of the stuff – Mike [middle linebacker] points, fronts, making sure he gives him a little heads up that it’s a different type of front and we have to make an adjustment.
“When you have a center that can do all that it really takes a lot off the quarterback. I think it’s kind of lost a little bit in today’s football world. If that position is really solid it takes a ton off the quarterback’s plate.”