Each week I will be reviewing the coaches’ tape from the previous week’s game and grading out the performance of the New York Jets Offensive Linemen. 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. Let’s see how well the big guys performed in week 3.
As a group, the offensive line took a big step forward in week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. This was actually a little bit of a surprise because of how solid the Bills are up front. Coming into the game, I thought the Bills’ defensive line was heads and shoulders above both the Bucs and Patriots. I still think they are, but the Bills defensive game plan didn’t help them. The main takeaway from this game (besides the fact that Jeff Cumberland can’t block) is that the Jets’ offensive line can be excellent when facing a stagnant defensive front.Despite the fact that the Jets struggled with movement up front in their first 2 games, the Bills decided to play a very conservative style of defense. Everything looked familiar. The fronts were the same as Rex Ryan’s, but the style of defense was much different.
Although there were still some issues individually, there were a lot of great things on the whole. As a group this line had a great game. They were getting a lot of movement in the run game and, for the most part, gave Geno Smith plenty of time to throw. They played a huge role in helping the Jets have one of the best offensive outputs in franchise history.
The Kevin Mawae Lineman of the Week – Willie ColonD’Brickashaw Ferguson could have gotten this award. He was rock solid at left tackle all day. He had one of his best games run blocking in the last couple years and did a great job keeping Mario Williams away from the quarterback.
I’m going with Willie Colon because he had more positive impacts which led to the best plus/minus of any lineman. ig Willie looks like he is getting more comfortable in this offense. I said last week that I had been a little disappointed with his play. A lot of that stemmed from the stunts and blitzes that New England threw at him. He struggled last week. This week, against a defensive front that didn’t move around too much, he played lights out. Even when they did stunt and twist, he did a better job picking it up.
Block of the Week – Willie Colon
There were a few blocks to choose from this week. Austin Howard had a crushing downblock that sprung a big run for Bilal Powell. Willie Colon had several knockdowns in this game and some big double teams with Nick Mangold and Austin Howard. I was tempted to use the play where it looked like he separated Marcell Dareus’ shoulder on a double team. I felt like I would be the Greg Williams of Jets Bloggers if I rewarded a player for injuring another. Willie beat up Dareus all day long as he came out of the game after shoulder and ankle injuries. I picked this crushing pancake block on his replacement instead:Here the Jets are running an inside zone play to the right. Willie Colon is at right guard and will perform a combo block where he and Nick Mangold are responsible for the DT Alan Branch and the linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Here the combo block is sorted out and Colon ends up by himself on Alan Branch as Mangold leaves to get the linebacker. Colon gets some nice initial movement and Branch has to dig his feet in to stop the movement.
Even though Branch digs his feet in, there is no stopping this freight train. Colon has perfect hand placement and run blocking technique. As he continues to run his feet, Branch starts to crumble.
In the end, Colon completely flattens the former second round pick. Generally you need to take someone out to dinner before you end up in this position.
Week Three Recap
Four of the five offensive lineman had great games. Willie Colon was an absolute stud. The only time he wasn’t dominant in this game was on man to man blocks with Kyle Williams. This is not a slight against Colon. I think Kyle Williams is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL and the best player on the Bills team. I was really impressed with him after watching the coaches tape.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson, was the highest graded player in week three. Brick was rock solid. He didn’t do anything flashy, but he was solid in run blocking and did a great job protecting Geno’s blindside, especially when matched up with Mario Williams. He had one really bad beat in pass pro. He would have given up a sack if Mario Williams, who was facing Jeff Cumberland, didn’t get there before the guy he was blocking. Besides that play though he was solid.
At the other tackle spot, Austin Howard was pretty solid as well. The Jets were smart in helping Howard in pass protection. When Mario Williams was lined up over him, the Jets threw chip blocks and max protections to the right side all game. Tight Ends rarely went out for passes in this game as they were often in helping Howard in pass protection. When Howard was by himself he was OK. He didn’t give up a lot of pressure, but his technique was pretty bad. There was one play where he span around in 2 full circles trying to find Mario Williams after his pass rush move. He was excellent in the run game, however. Similar to Colon, Howard was very physical.
At Center, Nick Mangold had a solid game as well. He did a nice job on the first level in the run game and was very good in pass protection. Nick did not let up any pressures, but the Bills really didn’t bring too many blitzes out of there 4-3 look. This allowed Mangold to help Colon and Vlad a lot more than he was able to in previous games. Nick is having trouble on the second level. He is not taking great angles and seems to be a step slower in trying to get to linebackers. Kiko Alonso was running around unblocked an awful lot in this game. The other big problem was Mangold’s premature snap that almost led to a turnover. He received a “-2″ for that play. I don”t know what happened on that play, but there was some kind of miscommunication between him and Geno Smith.
The one guy who didn’t play exceptionally well was Vlad Ducasse. Vlad came back to earth after his breakout performance last week. I knew he would have more trouble with Kyle Williams than he did with Wilfork because of his speed and explosiveness, but he looked completely outmatched when facing him. Williams was simply tossing Vlad off of him at will to make plays in run defense. Vlad also had some big mental errors. He had 4 penalties in the game. He also gave up a big hit on Geno on his first touchdown throw to Stephen Hill. This is unacceptable and another performance like that could lose him a job. In fact, Brian Winters did get in on one play and it was on the long touchdown to Santonio Holmes.
The guy that stood out as being much worse than Vlad was Jeff Cumberland. I know this is an OLine column, but it needs to be mentioned just how awful Cumberland was in run blocking. In the first half, Cumberland was responsible for nearly every TFL or short gain in the run game. No matter who he was blocking he was just completely overmatched. He isn’t strong enough right now to get any type of movement in the run game. He was OK in max protection, but still gave up a sack (Didn’t count because Bills accepted Cumberland’s holding penalty) when he was blocking Mario Williams. The Jets could have done even more damage in the run game if Cumberland could have held onto a few blocks. A large chunk of Bilal Powell’s yards came on cut backs in zone where Cumberland either wasn’t in the game or was far away from the cut back. I would expect to see some changes in either personnel or formations in the run game.
On paper, the Titans defensive front looks like a step down from what the Jets just played. There aren’t many big time names in their front seven, but I think they will actually be a pretty solid matchup. They are a top 10 defense overall and have shown really good ability in defending the pass. In order to move the ball and limit mistakes, the Jets are going to have to run. They should have an advantage as the Titans are not that big up front. They are, however, pretty athletic. If the Titans stunt and twist a lot, they could present a problem. Ultimately, I think the Jets will be able to run the ball because of their size and aggressiveness up front. On film I haven’t seen that much pressure and movement from the Titans. They like to play straight up. Their front seven is fast and have high motors. This means the Jets will have to run right at them instead of trying to get to the edge.