Sunday was difficult. I don’t think there’s any way to sugarcoat the fact that as Jets fans, we’re in a difficult position right now. We’re not where we thought we’d be and we’re certainly not where we hoped we’d be. But… we’re just three games into the season. There are a lot of miles left in this race and plenty of opportunities to turn things around.

For whatever reason, the Patriots have been a thorn in our side for a long time. Coach Saleh rightfully chose to switch the focus away from the losing streak, but for the fans, it stings. 15 straight losses to a division rival is difficult to stomach, but out of the loss there were some positives.

For the first time this season, Jets rookie Joe Tippmann took to the field. Not in his preferred centre position which was occupied by Connor McGovern, but as a guard. Duane Brown’s unfortunate injury and placement on IR meant a shuffle of the offensive line.

Mekhi Becton moved out to left tackle from right tackle, Alijah Vera-Tucker from right guard to right tackle, and Joe Tippmann slotted into that vacated guard spot. Although it’s only one game, the early signs were positive, especially when you consider that Tippmann had just 11 career reps at guard while working his way through college in Wisconsin.

With Duane Brown set to miss at least four weeks after being placed on IR, it presents opportunities for certain players, including Joe Tippmann. I’m sure the Jets see Tippmann’s future at centre, but for now, playing at guard will allow him valuable live reps against NFL competition. There’s also something to be said for gaining the perspective of the player you play next to, so once Tippmann switches back to centre, he’ll have a better understanding of the guard’s responsibilities, techniques and assignments.

There was one play in particular where Tippmann was able to identify and pick up Matthew Judon, one of the better pass-rushers in football. Tippmann used his anchor and strength to divert Judon away from the QB and open up a throwing lane. If he can do that in his first game against a player like Judon, he’ll be absolutely fine the rest of the way.

When you lose players to injuries, you have to adapt. The Jets have been unfortunate enough to lose both their starting quarterback and starting left tackle within the first quarter of the season. Alijah Vera-Tucker’s versatility gives the Jets options, as Saleh said this pre-season:

“We think he’s (AVT) an All-Pro-caliber right guard. We think he can be a heck of a tackle, too, but he is an elite guard. That’s somewhere we would love to keep him.”

The current structure of the line was not in the blueprint, but like all teams, adjustments need to be made, and while it’s only one game, the early signs are positive when it comes to the Joe Tippmann, Alijah Vera-Tucker combination on the right side of the line.

According to football analytics firm PFF, Tippmann and AVT combined to allow just 1 pressure on Zach Wilson in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots. In 39 pass-blocking snaps, that combo allowed a defensive player to generate heat just once, with Joe Tippmann putting together a pressure-free performance. While he did have a late penalty called against him, it was an incredibly clean game considering it was his maiden voyage into the depths of the NFL.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is renowned for his blitzes. New England ranks in the top-5 in terms of blitz percentage (43.6%), which puts an incredible amount of pressure on the communication of the line, and it puts even more pressure on the centre and guards who have to make sure blitzes through the middle are picked up.

While the Jets struggled to move the ball on the ground on Sunday, largely thanks to the Patriots loading the box, AVT in particular showed that whether he’s playing guard or tackle, he’s going to move people off the ball.

That was game one. This week represents another opportunity to get practice reps in as a unit, but the early signs are positive on the new unit in the trenches.