What Was NY Jets OT Max Mitchell Like When They Started?
New York Jets rookie Max Mitchell got off to the start with the right tackle in the season opener
One of the most notable storylines of the New York Jets season opener was the messy offensive tackle situation. After injuries to Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown, rookie Max Mitchell got the start at right tackle in Week 1. Louisiana’s fourth-round pick was thrown straight into the fire against an aggressive Baltimore Ravens defense .
Expectations were low for Mitchell. As a Day 3 rookie coming from a middle school who only practiced with the first-team offensive line the week before his first game, it was hard to imagine Mitchell having anything but a tough day. .
Against all odds, the rookie came out and exceeded expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw of him on film.
That’s not to say Mitchell was amazing. I wouldn’t even say it was “good” or “average”.
However, I don’t think he was “terrible” either. I would rate Mitchell’s performance as ‘below average’ starting with tackling standards, which is way beyond what many expected and a great stepping stone for the 22-year-old.
Here’s a bunch of Mitchell’s most notable plays I’ve seen in film, good and bad.
Movie by Max Mitchell
Mitchell wears #61 and lines up at right tackle.
Good and bad here from Mitchell. I like the lateral mobility and inside leverage it gains. But veteran defensive end Calais Campbell is able to erase Mitchell’s positional advantage by pulling him forward to easily get rid of the block. Campbell takes the tackle.
Mitchell rebounds against Campbell with a good reputation for protection. Campbell goes for the combined club/inside swim move but Mitchell shuts it down, keeping it away from the pocket. Campbell finally gets a hit on Flacco but it’s not Mitchell’s fault, as it’s Laken Tomlinson and George Fant who are responsible for forcing Flacco into Mitchell’s man.
Excellent rep for Mitchell against seasoned veteran Justin Houston. Tight end CJ Uzomah blocks on the 5 technique defensive end (which is over Mitchell’s outside shoulder) while Mitchell kicks to take the lead. Mitchell creates a lot of lateral movement against Houston.
Another enjoyable racing game from Mitchell. He works inside and helps Alijah Vera-Tucker with Campbell, creating an inward thrust. Mitchell then comes out of the block and works on the outside to seal the edge. A hole is created in the B-gap, but Michael Carter is unable to get there.
There were a few instances in which a pre-snap move caused Mitchell to miss a mission on the edge.
Here, Jets movement from Braxton Berrios prompts Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen (No. 6) to slide farther outside and closer to the line of scrimmage, which should alert Mitchell to be aware of Queen. Instead, Mitchell starts the game working inside and is late to recognize Queen, allowing her to blast the game into the backfield.
Mitchell’s strong protection rep. Houston is looking for the rush of speed that comes out of a wide-9 lineup. Mitchell sends him into the arc and passes the quarterback.
Mitchell with another solid rep in protection. Tyler Conklin assists Mitchell by passing the defensive end within reach, and Mitchell does the rest.
Fantastic Mitchell rep at the back. Already possessing inside leverage on his man before the snap due to alignment, Mitchell works vertically and rotates his hips outward to seal the defensive end out of play.
Now we see Mitchell’s opposite result on a backstroke block. Mitchell comes off the line with wide hands and the 4i technique defensive tackle does a great job of immediately placing his outside arm into Mitchell’s chest, establishing complete control. Mitchell is plowed into the backfield and his man makes the save on Breece Hall.
Nothing too flashy here, but Mitchell keeps Odafe Oweh in front of him while protecting him on an island.
Mitchell leads the way on a 14-yard Breece Hall run. Great lateral movement against the outside linebacker.
Nice waterfall pickup from Mitchell and Vera-Tucker. Mitchell backs up and keeps his eyes on the edge defender, but he also leaves his inside hand outstretched to feel if the DT is moving towards him (great show of awareness). Once Mitchell senses that Vera-Tucker is passing the DT on to him, he turns his attention inward and takes the DT. Good pass from Vera-Tucker.
As I mentioned earlier, here’s another example of a pre-snap move causing Mitchell to miss a mission.
Berrios’ move drags Queen (#6) on the outside and becomes the new EMOL (end man on line of scrimmage), replacing #99 and likely making him Mitchell’s new assignment. Mitchell doesn’t seem to recognize Queen’s move at all, as he still blocks No. 99 and lets Queen fly untouched. By the time Mitchell recognizes Queen, it’s too late.
Mitchell does a good job of protecting against Oweh. Conklin helps Mitchell with a chip on Oweh before going his way. Oweh tries to bend the corner on Mitchell but the rookie is ready, sending him past the quarterback.
Not a good job from Mitchell against this stunt. Mitchell’s man (#60) falls into his cover, leaving him unaffected, so he turns his head inside and looks for work. Its good. However, Mitchell fails to notice the No. 93 looping towards him. Mitchell tries to help Vera-Tucker and ignores #93. Mitchell notices this late and does a decent job of getting Flacco some more time, but #93 ends up going home to pressure Flacco.
Solid work in a one-on-one against Oweh. Mitchell grabs Oweh’s chest with his inside hand. Oweh tries to take Mitchell’s hand off him and convert into an outward tearing motion, but Mitchell stops him. Oweh then tries to work in an inside spin, and Mitchell stops him as well.
Oweh goes into a stampede against Mitchell. The rookie does a solid job of absorbing and grounding him.
As you probably noticed, the Jets definitely tried to help Mitchell in this game by using tight ends. On this game, just like in many games we’ve watched so far, Uzomah forces Oweh to widen extremely far from the pocket, buying a lot of time and space to help Mitchell. Mitchell then stops Oweh’s outside rush and sends him past the quarterback.
Trembling rep here from Mitchell. He passes on the outside and Oweh makes him pay, using a double sweep move to beat him on the inside. Luckily, Vera-Tucker is there to slow Oweh down before he heads home on Flacco. But Oweh beat Mitchell this time after a short trick winning streak.
Oweh gets another win against Mitchell on the inside. Mitchell snorts on his punch and Oweh responds with an inside spin to get through the B gap. Vera-Tucker can’t save Mitchell this time as Oweh hits Flacco’s arm as he throws.
A rocky start for Max Mitchell: Which is better than anyone could have hoped for
Max Mitchell’s first NFL start was a mixed bag. But when you consider the circumstances, it’s a very positive result for him and the Jets. Mitchell could have easily had a disastrous game in which he looked lost and blew up the Jets’ entire offense. Instead, he held his own quite often – more often than his veteran peers, in fact. (I’m looking at you, George Fant and Laken Tomlinson.)
A respectable start from Mitchell isn’t enough to guarantee he’s ready to play at a rookie level throughout his rookie season. Perhaps it will be exhibited next week by Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. He has to keep building before we can be sure of anything.
If he Is building on his first performance, however, the Jets offense might be able to stay afloat with a freshman Mitchell in the roster after all.