TOJ Jets Roster Preview – Will the Jets’ Offensive Line Be Better?

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When it came to the offensive line, I decided to call in our resident big man, Mike Nolan, to finish our New York Jets roster preview. Take it away…

I decided to borrow an article format that I saw Terry Blount use about the Seahawks on ESPN.com. Since the Jets were consistently ranked in the bottom 10 of 2013 NFL Offensive Lines, I thought it would be a good format to see if we should expect them to improve at each position in 2014.

Left Tackle – Slightly Better

D’Brickashaw Ferguson probably had his worst season as a Jet in 2013. Although he is an average run blocker, he was able to make multiple Pro Bowls because of his pass protection. He even struggled there in 2013 giving up eight sacks and 31 hurries. Although the recent trends show Ferguson should get worse, 2013 was his floor. While I’m not expecting him to return to the Pro Bowl, I do expect him to stop his downward trend.

Ferguson will also stand to benefit from having a more stable situation at Left Guard. A huge component of offensive line play is how well you gel with the guy next to you. Brick didn’t seem to have much chemistry with either Vlad Ducasse or Brian Winters. This should make life a little easier on Ferguson as Brian Winters continues to progress.

Left Guard – Better

The Left Guard spot was a disaster in 2013. Vlad Ducasse was horrible in all but one game (Patriots, Week 2) and Brian Winters wasn’t much better. This year should at least add some more stability as Winters will be the presumed starter with his first offseason under his belt. Don’t forget that Brian Winters played a little better down the stretch in the last 3 games, having his best game of the year in Week 17 against the Dolphins. Winters has gotten all the work with the first team in mini-camp and will stand to gain a lot if he can stay healthy through this training camp.

If Winters is beaten out for the Left Guard spot by Oday Aboushi – who has been praised all offseason – then I would still expect this spot to be better. If the coaching staff feels that another player is an upgrade to Brian Winters at this position, then despite some growing pains, it will still ultimately be an upgrade from 2013.

Center – Same

Nick Mangold may not be the top center in the NFL anymore, but he hasn’t had quite the downfall that D’Brickashaw Ferguson has had. Mangold is still the Jets best lineman and is the leader of this group. Mangold was consistently the highest graded lineman in my Big Man Reports and seemed to get more comfortable as the season went along. He did a great job towards the end of the season giving help to Brian Winters and allowing the line to have a few good performances to end the year. I expect pretty much the same performance from Mangold in 2014.

Right Guard – Not As Good

Willie Colon was solid in his first year with the Jets. He is a physical player who brings a great attitude to the offensive line. Despite this, he definitely has his weaknesses that are not going to be corrected at this point in his career. He struggled in run blocking more than I expected and still has his injury and penalty issues. The former tackle was really good pass blocking though.

Going in to camp, there are big question marks about this position. Colon is supposed to be ready for the regular season, but will he be the same player coming off more injuries? If he is not ready, Oday Aboushi would presumably step into that spot. As he has yet to even dress for an NFL game, this would be a step down from the solid veteran.

Right Tackle – Same

This may seem like a little bit of a cop out, but I really don’t think there will be much difference at right tackle in 2014. While it is tough to lose an ascending talent like Austin Howard, Breno Giacomini should bring some more consistency to the position.

Howard was up and down at times last year, but generally graded out very positively. While not great athletically, Howard seemed to figure out how to become a savvy pass protector only yielding 2 sacks last year.

Giacomini has a similar background as he went from practice squad player into full time starter with the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks. Giacomini missed some time due to injury last year, but when he got healthy he played some of the best football of his career. I watched Giacomini’s film from the end of 2013 and he reminded me a lot of Howard. He’s not flashy, but is a solid lineman who gets the job done and rarely gives up big plays. To sum it up, the Jets are replacing an average right tackle who won’t make big mistakes with another average right tackle who won’t make big mistakes.

Depth – Better

The Jets haven’t had to worry about depth very often as the offensive line has been pretty healthy over the past several years. Ferguson and Mangold have missed a combined total of 2 games in their careers.

Even so, anything can happen and there is no where to go but up when it comes to the Jets depth along the offensive line. They severely lacked depth along the line in 2013 and were very lucky that they didn’t sustain any major injuries until Week 17 when Willie Colon tore his biceps. The Jets’ depth on Sundays consisted of Caleb Schlauderaff and Vlad Ducasse or Brian Winters, whichever wasn’t starting. Ben Ijalana, Oday Aboushi, and William Campbell were on the 53 man roster, but were inactive for all 16 games.

The depth has to be better this year. Ducasse is gone. But Ijalana, Aboushi, and Campbell should all be active if they make the final roster. All three should be improved after essentially redshirting last year and Aboushi has worked with the first team all offseason. Schlauderaff is still around, but there is a good chance he is replaced by Dalton Freeman on the final roster, which would be an improvement. Finally, they drafted Dakota Dozier in the fourth round. Dozier is an intriguing prospect and has the potential to be very good. They also have Patrick Ford and Jacolby Ashworth who are long shots to make the roster.

There is a recent trend when it comes to what the Jets are looking for in young linemen. They want physical, versatile guys who can play multiple positions and they have them in Winters, Aboushi, Ijalana, and Dozier. While the bench isn’t very experienced, you would have to assume it would be better than in 2013. However, they are still only one injury away from having some serious issues up front.

8 thoughts on “TOJ Jets Roster Preview – Will the Jets’ Offensive Line Be Better?

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  2. I wish I was as optimistic.

    Drafting 4 OL candidates in the past 2 years; fine, but it seems the Jets draft Tackles and try to teach them the Guard position or the opposite. Or, signing a free agent who has played a different type of blocking scheme.

    Why are we turning the OL into rocket science? We could have come into this year with 3 experienced starters and a stable of young draftees.

  3. This has got to be the most optimistic preview of the O-line I have seen anywhere. First of all, Brick and Mangold are what they are,ageing vet’s that are on the back 9 of their NFL playing careers.When your two oldest vets are without questions your best players something needs to change. Younger guys need to step up and at this point none of us has a clue if any of the present group has that ability. There was a good reason PFF rated Winters near the very bottom at his position. Frankly, I thought his play was actually worse than Ducasse’s if you took Vlad’s penchant for committing false start penalty’s out of the equation. Colon’s run blocking left a lot to be desired even when he was healthy so going into the season coming off two recent surgeries is a scary proposition for a 31 year old already in decline. I agree Giacomini vs Howard is likely a wash if he can refrain from committing the foolish penalties that frustrated the team and fans in Seattle. As scary as all this is,its the depth,or lack there of that scares me the most. There is not one proven player with significant experience so I’m thinking the back up left tackle is on somebody else’s roster at this time. As for Aboushi, in spite of Rex’s bluster I have serious doubts he is an NFL player. Following his Sr.season he was dreadful at the SR.Bowl and combine and he followed that up by being so unprepared Idzik was forced to basically red shirt him all season.He and Campbell were basically wasted roster spots that probably should have spent the season on the practice squad instead of the 53 man roster.

  4. Mark and Ron,

    Thanks for reading! All this article was meant to do was to see if each position would be better or worse than last year. This doesn’t speak for the offensive line as a whole, and it doesn’t take into consideration where they fall in the rest of the league. Overall, they’re not that good and I have acknowledged that They have a long way to go if they want to even be considered a top 10 OL in the NFL. I just get the feeiling that they will improve fron last year when they were all learning a new offense and you had a rookie that was forced into action before he was ready. They figured out how to help him out towards the end of the season and limited the crushing mistakes. There are some things to build off of and I think they can as long as they aren’t forced to start another rookie or guard who is not ready yet.

    When we talk about the Jets OL draft strategy, it is a similar strategy to a few other teams. The Packers are one that comes right to mind where they draft guys that played tackle in college that they move to guard. It has worked really well for them with Sitton and Lang.

  5. Hi Mike, please understand, it wasn’t my intent to be critical of your post. I go on the jet’s on SNY and on their own site as well so I’m pretty well read as to what’s up with my team. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and I’m hopeful you are right concerning your observations. As a former college player and coach and as a life long Jets fan (I’m 62) I’ve heard and seen just about everything there is to hear or see. I’m at the point know where I believe we need to start seeing some results because with two bitter playoff loss’s followed by three non winning seasons jet fans will be looking for better this year.

  6. Ron,

    No worries here. I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts. I do think the Jets are in a rough spot right now up front with three Vets past their prime, an average RT, and several unproven young guys who clearly need time to adjust to new offense/new positions. But it seems that Idzik has a philosophy on how to build an offensive line especially at Guard by drafting undervalued guys who need to change positions. I think he took that philosophy from John Schneider in Seattle who worked with Ted Thompson in Green Bay and it has worked there. It will be interesting to see how some of these young guys pan out in the next year or two to see if this philosophy pays off. If it doesn’t then they have really put themselves behind the 8-Ball up front.

  7. Idzik might be a three hour post all by himself? Frankly, i have no idea what to make of him as a GM. I read a lot about the Idzik plan, and not over spending and building a sustainable winner. This all sounds great in theory, but putting it into reality is another matter all together. I gave him a pass during the 2013 free agent period as his hands were basically tied by the dreadful cap situation he inherited. On the other hand, the plan he implemented was actually the exact plan Mike Tannenbaum had laid out to the NY beat writers like Rich Cimini and Randy Lange prior to his dismissal. To his credit, Idzik did not try to re-invent the wheel as he was smart enough to stick with that plan. Now the question becomes; do we give him all the credit for implementing some one else’s plan? His first draft that Rex proclaimed “a great draft”,because we got 5 starters” was in fact,a very questionable draft as only one of those starters in a proven commodity at this time and and at least four of them have questionable futures as NFL players. His lack of activity inthe free agency period this spring will be interesting to evaluate as the season unfolds.There were a dozen top corners available and we got none of them.Instead, hunting in the bargain bin we get a 31 year old coming off another injury that limited him to only a few games last season? The failure to properly address the corner position may prove problematic because opponents might be able to pick our defense apart with short passes on third downs which would neutralize our biggest strength on the D-line. In looking at this most recent draft ,that featured what most pundits felt was the best group of WR’s in over 20 years, its hard to believe we did not select one of the top guys in spite of the fact that we had 12 picks? The way i see it, Idzik’s performance to date has posed a lot more questions than solutions.

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