Two years ago, New York Jets rookie Brandon Shell burst onto the scene at right tackle, outperforming any and all expectations as his playing time increased during the latter half of the season. He did not allow a sack and was pristine as a pass protector, including a lack of detrimental holding calls. However, a shaky second year last year proved pivotal in his growth, and his future as a starter is in question. With additions such as Spencer Long to the offensive line, the New York Jets will love to see progress from their trench play, but that all starts with their offensive tackles. Brandon Shell needs to improve if this offensive line is going to become what it needs to be in order to protect Sam Darnold.
Brandon Shell Needs to Improve for the New York Jets
Shell’s development as an offensive tackle can influence more than just the team’s success this year. Shell has appeared to be a fringe starter as of late, but rekindling his rookie year’s performance could make him the right tackle of the future. If he proves to be a cornerstone of this offense, he may even become Kelvin Beachum‘s replacement and become the left tackle, the paramount position of the offensive line, for this Jets team. Unequivocally a lot is on the line here for the South Carolina product. Not only will his playing time and position be influenced, but his payday, depth chart allocation, and future with Gang Green will all be in question this coming year. If Darnold, assuming he is the starter, suffers or is set back due to poor tackle play, Shell’s time in New York may come to a close.
Furthermore, the 26-year-old offensive lineman got off to his hot start in part due to his role at right tackle rather than left, but also due to the level of competition. In his rookie season, he started the final four games in which the Jets played each of their division rivals and the San Francisco 49ers. None of the prior mentioned teams possessed at the time an elite level pass rusher coming off of the right side, or even simply, above average. The mediocre competition Shell faced matched with raw strength and a mean streak helped the rookie dominate in year one.
Going into his second season in the National Football League, Shell garnered high expectations, and to be blunt, he failed to meet them. A large part of this is due to the elite pass rushers Shell faced, and having to handle the stress that the rest of a poor offensive line can lend to its tackles. Facing off against the front sevens of the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, and Denver Broncos, Shell had to deal with better pass rushers, and as a result, the unimpressive play occurred.
What Shell needs to do in order to return back to form is regain the confidence we all witnessed as he dominated lesser competition. His ability to overpower many defensive linemen can be matched with streaks of impressive technique, and when this occurs, he is nearly unbeatable. Carrying over the confidence in himself and his mechanics will be important as he faces more established defensive lines in this coming year. His improvement will be significant to his future playing time along the Jets’ offensive line and crucial to the team’s overall success.