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On Monday the New York Jets officially crossed one important item off their preseason to-do list, confirming veteran Josh McCown would take the reins under center for the team in its first game of the season.
But beyond that, questions still abound, most astoundingly (and alarmingly for Jets fans) around the offensive line. As Zach Braziller of the New York Post recently reported, when offensive line coach Steve Marshall was asked how many spots on his line were still up for the taking, he replied “Five.”
That is most likely a bit of coach-speak exaggeration, as last year’s starting guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters are set to return. But the starting jobs at center and both tackle positions are still up in the air, with two men competing for each slot.
On Friday, when asked whether all six men competing at center and tackle would play Thursday in the Jets’ final preseason game against Philadelphia, head coach Todd Bowles said, “Right now, they will.”
The uncertainty leaves the Jets particularly vulnerable. The offensive line is the most unit-centric group on the field at any given moment, and while teams enter training camp hoping to find the right group of players to work together as a line, the Jets’ starting five’s first extended time playing together may be in their season opener.
And the Jets’ offensive prospects beyond the team’s line don’t look much better. McCown is a proven journeyman in the league, but his peak performance is probably best described as serviceable, and even those kinds of games may be few and far between for the 38-year-old.
The Jets also have almost no receivers to speak of after Brandon Marshall signed with the Giants, Eric Decker was signed by the Titans, and Quincy Enunwa went down for the season with a neck injury. The Jets’ receiving core includes names like Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, and Charone Peake.
Altogether, the Jets’ offense as assembled today features a subpar quarterback with no time to throw and no one to throw to. The backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell may need to make two men miss before even making it back to the line of scrimmage.
The Jets open the season September 10 against the Bills in Buffalo. Las Vegas lists the team’s win total over/under at 4 1/2.