Ahead of their Week 1 matchup with the Bengals, the Jets have some major issues along their offensive line.
The 2015 starting unit featured a decent line. Between D'Brickashaw Ferguson at left tackle, James Carpenter at left guard, Nick Mangold at center, Willie Colon at right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle, the offensive line was a unit that helped New York have a top-10 offense.
However, Ferguson is now retired and has been replaced by Ryan Clady, who was brought in via an offseason trade with the Broncos. Colon went down with a season-ending injury midway through 2015 that led to the ineffective Brian Winters taking over, and he's expected to retain that spot in 2016.
But the biggest issue is at right tackle, as Giacomini is now on PUP and will miss the first six weeks of this season. Even though Giacomini missed all of training camp and the preseason, the Jets have yet to find his replacement.
It's been a close battle between Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale for the starting spot, though it's been 'close' in the sense that neither guy has stood out. It sounds like the Bengals should expect to see both this week in New York.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles said Monday that both Ijalana and Qvale could play the position against Cincinnati on Sunday.
"Until it sorts itself out, yes," Bowles said. "It's possible. I've been in this league for 16, 17 years. Right tackles don't fall off trees. You're not going to claim a starting right tackle in this league. They're like quarterbacks."
Rotating offensive lineman at any spot rarely ever works in the NFL. It hurts the chemistry of the line and even the quarterback, who gets used to the tendencies of all five of his lineman, but that's harder to do when one of those spots features two guys.
The Bengals' defensive line going against the Jets' offensive line was already one of, if not the biggest matchup to watch in this game. If the Jets don't find an answer at right tackle, we could see a lot of Carlos Dunlap planting Ryan Fitzpatrick into the turf on Sunday.
Dunlap stands to be the biggest benefactor from this matchup. He lines up over the right tackle for most snaps, though he’ll occasionally get some run on the left side as well.
With the Broncos also breaking in a new left tackle in Clady, it would be wise to get Dunlap some run at both guys. Clady was a great left tackle early in his career, but injuries have made him a shell of what he was.
Sunday should be a good day for Dunlap and the Bengals’ defensive line in their regular-season opener.