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Assessing the Roster- Offensive Line

DíBrickashaw Ferguson- Ferguson continues the maddening pattern of up a year down a year, but was terrific this season. Among Offensive Tackles I ranked him 8th in my own pass blocking ratings which is excellent especially when you consider the penchant than Sanchez had for holding the ball too long in the pocket. If Fergsuon ever got consistent year to year you could mention him with the very best but he hasnít donít that just yet. He is just one notch below that elite category, but you could do a lot worse than Brick as your starting Left Tackle.

Austin Howard- Unlike Ferguson he grades as one of the worst pass protectors in the NFL increasing play failures by 7.67% this year. Of those who played more than 50% of the snaps for their units only three were worse. Howard was better in the run game and seemed to come along nicely in that area by the end of the season. I think he is a player that could stand out more if the Jets had more capable runners. Still the pass block deficiencies are bad and when he misses he barely gets a hand on the player. I felt that Sanchez did not trust Howard at all and it affected his play. Part of that was because of the experience with Wayne Hunter the year before but Howard was not an upgrade in overall results. The thing that we did not see with Howard was the play where the defender would just overpower Hunter and throw him aside. That was what made Hunter so scary. Howard was more getting run around or losing balance. The way the Jets run their system Howard is best suited for the jumbo TE/extra lineman role unless he significantly improves in pass blocking.

Matt Slauson- For whatever reason the Jets do not seem to care for Slauson. Slauson graded out in pass protection as the 11th ranked Guard, his best showing of his career. He is right there with Kraig Urbick of Buffalo who just signed a 4 year $13.5 million dollar extension. Yet the Jets continued to pull him from games to get more work for Vlad Ducasse. It is kind of unexplainable unless the Jets have simply decided they can not bring Slauson back next year. The way he was treated he may not want to be back. Slauson is going to get overpowered by bigger players and he is not a great run blocker, nor athletic enough to get out and block down the field, but he is an above average player this year and a big reason why the Jets have played so well on the line.

Brandon Moore- Moore had slipped badly early in the season, but rebounded nicely as the year went on. He will finish around 15th in pass protection, which will give the Jets the 2nd best pass protecting guards in the NFL behind only the Bills who run a very different scheme than New York. Moore will be a free agent and his age is certainly a concern.

Nick Mangold- Nick had a poor year by his standards and this is really two years in a row. Mangold is going to grade out as average in pass protection which you cant have when you are spending the kind of dollar the Jets are for Mangold. Mangold looks like someone that needs a break. I think his body has taken a beating these last two years and he has rushed back from injury rather than healing up from injury. He is here for the long term and I think the Jets need to do a better job protecting him from himself if he does get hurt again.

Vlad Ducasse- Ducasse no longer looks like a total disaster on the field which is a major step forward. The last two years you could not even dream of putting him out there without the threat of the QB getting his head taken off. Still in pass protection he would grade out right near the bottom of the NFL for guards. Ducasse allowed 4 less pressures than Slauson in 234 less snaps. There is no comparison between the two. A backup type player.

Jason Smith- The sample size is so small its hard to say if he has any future with the team or the league. The fact that he had 2 penalties in 248 snaps is concerning since that was a problem he had with the Rams. The starters combined for 5 penalties in over 2000 snaps. When you have the draft status Smith has Im not sure you are long for the league being relegated to the type of role the Jets had for him.

Caleb Schlauderaff- I donít think he played one snap this season and somehow escaped getting cut.

Overall

Because the QB play was so bad and the RBs so poor, people believe that this offensive line is terrible. It really was not. They were top 10 in run effectiveness and pass protection. If the Jets had better skill position talent it would be noticeable how much better the Jets offensive line was. I think the problems that the Jets encounter are what to do with the age of Moore, strained relationship with Slauson, and right tackle. Slauson should make 2.5-3 million a year in free agency and the Jets donít view him as that type of player so he will likely be elsewhere next season, which will turn a strength into a negative if Ducasse slides in. Moore is tricky because the Jets need to get younger and I think you push it when you keep going to the well on some of the guys that might be getting up there in age. Howards role is strictly dependent on how they think he can grow in pass protection.

If It was me I think the Jets best chances for success are to retain Slauson, draft a RG, and look at the market to find a solid veteran right tackle. I guess depending on the marketplace you could swap the RG/RT decision. I like the idea of Howard as the insurance policy and extra defender on run plays, which is why I think the veteran RT is a good way to go. If he does go down to injury Howard can step in and be effective enough. I think the Jets also need to bring in a low cost veteran center to allow Mangold to rest if he goes down to injury rather than rushing back.

If the Jets intention next year is to go run heavy than Slauson is out because that is his major deficiency. Howard would definitely stay in and they might bring back Moore if the cost is right. I could live with that if they plan to go out into free agency and pay a LG that they know will be effective. If the plan is to slot Ducasse at LG then I think you are weakening the entire team.

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