The Rise of Jermaine JohnsonAugust 31, 2023
Navigating the Complexity of Aaron Rodgers CadenceSeptember 7, 2023
In the upcoming Monday Night Football, all eyes will be on the anticipated showdown between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. While the spotlight will be on the Jets’ offensive line, particularly right tackle Mekhi Becton, it’s the Bills’ own offensive line that might be their greatest vulnerability.
A Closer Look at the Bills’ Offensive Line
For all the talk about the Jets’ line, the Bills might be the ones with a more shaky front five. An analysis by Jets X-Factor’s Rivka Boord revealed that the Bills, in comparison to the AFC East’s four teams, ranked third in pass-blocking and last in run-blocking. This is in contrast to the Jets who ranked second in both categories.
The weakest link in the Bills‘ chain is arguably Spencer Brown, their right tackle. Brown’s performance in 2022 was less than stellar, contributing significantly to the Bills‘ lower rankings. In fact, he could potentially be the weakest offensive lineman on either team come Monday night.
Unpacking Spencer Brown’s Performance
Based on PFF’s data, Brown allowed an alarming 42 pressures on 551 pass-blocking snaps last season. This equates to a pressure rate of 7.62%, positioning him at a poor 57th place out of 63 qualified tackles. His performance in run-blocking wasn’t any better, ranking 54th out of 66 with a grade of 53.7.
This puts Brown in a precarious position, being one of the only two qualified right tackles (with a minimum of 500 snaps at RT) to have a pressure rate above 7.0% and a run-blocking grade below 50.0. This dubious honor is shared with Giants rookie Evan Neal.
The Jets’ Opportunity
The Bills‘ decision to keep Brown as a starter might prove to be a boon for the Jets. His performance could give the Jets’ defensive line a chance to dominate on Josh Allen’s right side.
Historically, the Jets have had success in exploiting Brown’s weaknesses. In three games against the Jets, Brown allowed 15 pressures on 125 pass-blocking snaps – a shocking pressure rate of 12.0%.
Two of Brown’s worst career games were against the Jets. In Week 18 of the 2021 season, he allowed a season-high seven pressures. He missed the Jets’ Week 9 win over the Bills in 2022, but when he returned for the Week 14 rematch, he allowed seven pressures again, matching his career-high.
Key Players to Watch
Three Jets players are expected to take advantage of Brown’s weaknesses: John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and Bryce Huff. These were the Jets’ primary left-side defensive ends last season, and they’re expected to retain their roles in 2023, setting them up against Brown.
Franklin-Myers, in particular, could be a game-changer. He recorded seven pressures against Brown in Week 18 of the 2021 season, his third-best single-game pressure total in his career.
Huff, who faced Brown for the first time in Week 14 of 2022 and recorded three pressures on just 11 pass-rush snaps, might also pose a significant threat. Johnson, though he had only one pressure in the Week 14 game against Brown, has improved and could be a difference-maker as well.
The Impact on the Ground Game
Brown’s weaknesses could also be exploited in the run game. His 46.1 run-blocking grade against the Jets last season was his third-worst of the year. Even Sauce Gardner, a non-lineman, managed to make Brown look outmatched in the run game.
While the glamorized matchups of Rodgers vs. Allen or Sauce vs. Diggs will undoubtedly capture the audience’s attention, it’s often the battles on the line that decide the game’s outcome.
The Jets have consistently dominated against Brown. If they can repeat their past success on Monday night, they might just secure their victory against the Bills.