Each week I will be reviewing the coaches’ tape from the previous week and grading out the performance of the New York Jets’ Offensive Line. This grading process is the same one I use to grade the offensive linemen I have coached at the college and high school levels. To see how I grade click here. To see previous season Big Man Reports, click here. Let’s see how the big guys performed in week 1 against the Raiders.
Finally, football is back! Sometimes training camp can be excruciatingly long and this one felt longer than most for some reason. It was fun to go through training camp wondering if Oday Aboushi might unseat Brian Winters or if Willie Colon would gel with Breno Giacomini once back from injury. While that stuff can be exciting, I really love going through the tape to see how the Big Uglies perform once we get to the regular season. Let’s get to it!
A Big Man’s Thoughts On The Game
Despite only putting up 19 points, there is a lot to be happy about on the offensive side of the ball. The run game looked solid with Johnson and Ivory combining for 170 yards on 23 carries. Geno Smith looked better in the pocket and showed some really good decision making for the most part. He ran when he had to, he threw the ball away when he had to, and he made some nice throws. The offensive line looked better than expected with Brian Winters putting together a strong performance. Breno Giacomini looked solid in his first game as a Jet. His physicality fits in nicely with this group.
The Jets looked great on offense until they got down in the Red Zone. The major concern I have is an issue that has plagued Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg throughout his career. His offense struggles in the Red Zone. He gets too cute with his play calling down there and Geno Smith and the rest of the offense seemed to make their mistakes then: 2 fumbles and a lot of pressure. To beat a team like Green Bay next week, you can’t settle for field goals when you get down in the Red Zone.
Kevin Mawae Lineman of the Week – Brian Winters
All offseason, we talked about the progression of Brian Winters being a key to this offense. The Raiders aren’t great inside, but Brain Winters really played well for the majority of this game. He showed improvement on several of the things he struggled with in 2013. He picked up pass twists, he had several textbook combination blocks, he had a few knockdowns, and did a nice job in pass protection with limited help. His footwork is what really impressed me as he did a better job keeping his feet moving in pass protection, which was perhaps his biggest weakness in 2013. He still needs to get some better knee bend so he doesn’t get pushed back. However, I’d rather see him get pushed back then smoked off the line of scrimmage. He finished the game with an 86% grade and led the offensive line in positive Impact blocks. I also like that the Jets have added an inside trap play which lets Winters pull and kick out a defensive tackle.
Breaking Down the Rest of the Trenches
As happy as I was with Brian Winters, I was equally disappointed in D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon. Colon was the worst lineman this week. His 3 penalties were costly and he was constantly falling to the ground when run blocking. He did, however, help spring Chris Ivory’s 71 yard TD by washing his man down the line, allowing Ivory to cut back. Brick seems to be getting worse run blocking. He just doesn’t have the power and aggression to really dominate in the run game like I think he should. It was amazing that the Jets were able to run so well with the performances from these two veterans.
Nick Mangold was his typical self. He was rock solid inside in both run and pass. He didn’t have any huge, impact blocks, but he didn’t blow many assignments either. Giacomini played well in his first game. He was physical and really fit in well at Right Tackle. The fact that he ran so much zone blocking in Seattle has clearly helped him slide right in with the Jets. He did an excellent job on linebackers all game and was better in the open field than I anticipated.
The offensive line as a whole did an excellent job in pass protection. Geno had a lot of time in this game. The Raiders pressures and sacks came when they brought more defenders than the line could block. This is huge for this offense.
Next Up – Green Bay Packers
The Jets offensive line will face their first true test this week when they take on the Packers front seven. I say this mostly with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers in mind when it comes to pass protection. The pass rush will be much stronger and more relentless than what they faced in week one and you always have to expect some creative blitz packages from Dom Capers. Besides that, this front seven is overrated. The defensive line is not that good and is greatly missing BJ Raji inside. They were dominated by the Seahawks offensive line which is ascending, but relatively average. I expect the Jets to lean heavily on the run in this game because they can push the Packers around up front and they will want to keep the Packers passing attack off the field.