Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/24/12
Much has been made about the Jets’ quarterback carousel over the past few weeks, but no amount of change under center will matter unless something changes along that offensive line. Rex Ryan finally made the move away from Mark Sanchez last week, after a five-turnover debacle all but ended his stay in New York. The Jets decided to instead go with second-year quarterback Greg McElroy against the Chargers on Sunday, and he looked good, at least when he was standing. McElroy completed 14 of his 24 passes for 185 yards and one interception in the loss, but the quarterback also faced plenty of adversity during his first career NFL start. That adversity came in the form of Chargers defenders, who were able to lay 16 good hits on McElroy and sacked the young signal-caller 11 times on the afternoon. Now, if that doesn’t top as the worst effort by an offensive line ever, then I don’t know what would. What makes matters even worse is that the Jets’ offensive line features three Pro Bowlers (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore), including a trip for each of them just last season. So, either the line was sticking up for the banished Sanchez, which would be messed up toward McElroy, or they have merely given up on the season. The Jets didn’t exactly have the most stout offensive line throughout the season, allowing Sanchez to be sacked 33 times through 14 games, but 11 times in a single game seems awfully excessive. Whatever the reason was behind the sudden spike, though, the Jets need to resolve that issue, and quickly. McElroy may not be the long-term answer at quarterback — as a seventh-round draft pick, he’s not likely going to be –but he at least deserves a fair shake. If not him, then Michael Vick, who was the hot name on the pen tips of the New York media last week, probably won’t be too keen on going from one dismal offensive line in Philadelphia to another one just over the border either. The Jets’ biggest concern right now might be what to do at quarterback, or the future of Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Their primary focus should be on their season finale in Buffalo, though, and even more specifically how to better accommodate whoever happens to be under center. That order of business would be tightly intertwined with the offensive line, which should also be of high importance. Until the Jets are able to settle their off-field issues, such as Ryan and Tannenbaum’s future or even Tim Tebow‘s unwillingness to play in the Wildcat formation, the results on the field won’t get any better. They can at least help their chances, though, by figuring out just what went wrong along the line on Sunday, and finding a way to correct it. Otherwise, they may not have anyone capable, or conscious, lining up behind center anymore. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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