The New York Jets filled out their offensive line by getting Ryan Kalil to come out of retirement, and that development is a massive win for young quarterback Sam Darnold.
When a young quarterback comes into the NFL, many people claim that a solid tight end is their best friend, but that isn’t true. The best friend for a developing quarterback is a veteran center, who can be an invaluable resource as said quarterback learns how to read defenses and identify blitzes.
Throughout the history of the league, many great quarterbacks have benefitted from the presence of a veteran center when they were young, including Brett Favre (with Frank Winters), Dan Marino (with Dwight Stephenson), and Terry Bradshaw (with Ray Mansfield). The New York Jets have a young quarterback of their own they are trying to grow in Sam Darnold, and they just gave him a new best friend in the form of veteran center Ryan Kalil.
Kalil, who is a five-time Pro Bowler, is coming out of retirement to man the center position for the Jets. That is a massive upgrade over incumbent Jonotthan Harrison, who played well in spot duty at the end of last season but is still inexperienced as an NFL player.
Having Kalil around will be a massive benefit for Darnold, who has tremendous instincts and ability but like all young quarterbacks needs help at times identifying where blitzes are coming from and adjusting protections along the offensive line. Adding a guy like Kalil will allow him to not only help Darnold with those responsibilities, but teach him how to do it on his own as well, setting him up for success in the future.
The Jets have done a tremendous job bolstering their offensive line this season, adding Kalil and left guard Kelechi Osemele to join returning starters Kelvin Beachum, Brian Winters, and Brandon Shell. That looks like a solid offensive line, and the Jets could do even better by pursuing a trade for disgruntled Redskins’ tackle Trent Williams.
Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is holding out in Washington due to dissatisfaction with his contract. The Redskins are exploring trade possibilities for Williams, and the Jets should pick up the phone to try and bring the veteran tackle here to protect Darnold’s blindside.
Williams would slot in at left tackle, sending Beachum to the right side and giving the Jets tremendous depth along the line with Shell capable of filling in at both tackle positions. Shell is a young player with potential, but he is coming off a knee injury so relying on him can be dicey.
The last time the Jets had a superb offensive line like the one they are building right now was back in 2009, when they went to back-to-back AFC Championship games with a young quarterback in Mark Sanchez. No one is saying the Jets are going that far this season, but building up their offensive line is one of the easiest ways to help Darnold turn into a star, so moves like Kalil are a massive benefit in the long run.