June 13, 2024

The New York Jets, who have what is arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL, need to be open to all ideas while figuring out how to improve the unit. There is never a terrible idea.

There is a severe lack of talent on the Jets’ offensive line. Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann are the only two players on their squad who are guaranteed starters. It’s unclear, though, whatever positions they will play.
Contrary to Tippmann’s position, Vera-Tucker’s position is discussed far more frequently. While it’s unclear if Vera-Tucker will start at guard or tackle, it seems reasonable to presume that Tippmann will start for the Jets at center. It appears that Tippmann will start at center for the Jets, at least for the foreseeable future.

However, I wouldn’t totally rule out the idea that Tippmann could be transferred to security by New York. It’s an unconventional solution that would provide the Jets another avenue to consider while rebuilding the offensive line.

It might be argued that Tippmann’s potential effect can be maximized at the guard position, providing the Jets another option to think about. Tippmann may gain from the move as well as the team.
Guards are more highly valued by NFL teams than centers. The market value of both positions serves as proof of this.

Currently, the top 15 highest-paid centers have an average yearly pay of $8.5 million. That comes to $14.5 million for guards.

Why are guards considered more valuable by teams than centers? It’s easy: their influence on pass security.

That being said, centers play a crucial role in pass protection. They are, of course. There are several situations in which centers are essential to the quarterback’s protection, including setting protections, supporting the guards, picking up blitzes, and picking up stunts. They are important. A great deal.

More so than with guards, though.
This is a normal outcome of the way defensive lines are usually set up in the current NFL. Nowadays, in the league where passes are preferred, nose tackles are becoming rare. Those traditional foundation 3-4 configurations with a fearsome monster over the center and two more defensive tackles beside him are getting harder and harder to come by.

Particularly in passing scenarios, most teams only have two defensive tackles on the field for the bulk of the game.

The average defense in 2023 only used a nose tackle for 5.4 pass-rush snaps per game, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. This implies that on average, centers only had to handle five plays a game where they had to block a player who was positioned immediately in front of them, or pass rushers.

Centers are facing one-on-one reps in pass protection significantly less frequently than guards due to the demise of the nose tackle. Even in situations where there isn’t a nose tackle standing right across from them, centers can still block a player one-on-one in many plays. The idea is that a significant portion of one-on-ones that belonged to centers have been shifted to guards as a result of the ban on head-up nose tackles.

The developments we are witnessing from offensive are being mirrored by the expansion of defenses. They no longer prioritize clogging the center; instead, they want the linemen to have room to manoeuvre and pursue the quarterback.

This implies that the two guards have to deal with the two defensive tackles while the center is left uncovered on most passing plays. Because of this, centers are frequently left without a blocking partner on passing plays.

This is supported by NGS data. Centers only had one-on-one reps on 38.5% of their pass-blocking snaps in 2023. Conversely, 51.9% of the time, guards had to make a one-on-one block.

That is a noteworthy distinction. 36.3 passing plays were used by the typical NFL club each game. It can be inferred that the guards on average had to block one-on-one shots approximately 19 times per game (51.9 % of 36.3), whilst the center on average only had to do so 14 times (38.5% of 36.3).

Joe Tippmann, NY Jets, Guard, Center


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