UPDATE: The Washington Redskins have signed safety Brandon Meriweather. So, the New York Jets have been saved from themselves there. Look for them to make an aggressive push for Reggie Nelson.
In case you haven’t heard the Buffalo Bills have signed Mario Williams to a monster contract today. Williams is one of the league’s top pass rushers. I don’t believe in making reactionary moves to what other team’s in your division do in most situations and the Jets should have been acting to add a right tackle before the Bills even considered signing Williams, now they must act.
This is a pretty simple case. You have a quarterback who you just reinvested in for two more years. A guy who has shown potential, who you know you can with but a guy who struggles when he constantly has pressure in his face. Last year he was beat around because you had arguably the worst starting offensive tackle, Wayne Hunter. Your team struggled and you went 8-8. This happened because you undervalued your offensive line. When your offensive line was elite, you made the AFC Championship Game twice. When you start the 32nd best right tackle in football for 16 games, you go 8-8, miss the playoffs and have your quarterback’s confidence shaken.
Don’t give us leaks that you expect Vladimir Ducasse to compete with Hunter to start at tackle. Ducasse is one of the few players in the NFL not good enough to start over Hunter. Unless you have seen something I haven’t in the previous two years, there is no reason to think Ducasse is anywhere near being ready to start in the NFL and there is valid reason to question if he ever will.
I understand and appreciate a cautious approach in free agency. Plenty of teams are overpaying players as I am typing this. Yet, the Jets have a troubling history of overestimating their talents on the offensive line, whether it is starting Anthony Clement for two straight years, replacing Pete Kendall with Adrien Clarke or now replacing Damien Woody with Wayne Hunter. There are a handful of options still available on the free agent market and likely on the trade market. You don’t have to break the bank to replace Hunter but you need to do something. If you don’t, you wasted money extending Sanchez, guaranteeing Santonio Holmes contract, and paying any receiver this off-season. No point to invest in quarterbacks and receivers if you aren’t going to give them time to connect.
If the Jets have faith in Tony Sparano to improve their offensive line, that makes sense. It is why they hired him. He should help D’Brickashaw Ferguson have a bounce back year, continue to push Nick Mangold to be great and maybe make Matt Slauson go from being decent to slightly above decent. When it comes to Hunter or Ducasse…if ya ain’t got, ya ain’t got it and no coach in the world can change that.
In case you were thinking of still standing up for Hunter, remember four separate players (Von Miller, Andre Carter, Jason Babin, Jarret Johnson) all won AFC Defensive Player of the Week against the Jets last year for beating the crap out of Mark Sanchez.