Jets' Disregard for Upgrading Offensive Line Will Ultimately Hinder the Offense

Matt DienstagContributor IIIAugust 14, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  (L-R) D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60, Wayne Hunter #78 and Matt Slauson #68 of the New York Jets look on dejceted late in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There is no hiding the fact that the 2012 New York Jets roster leaves a lot to be desired.

Going in, you could tell on paper that this team lacks explosive playmakers, proven pass-rushers and depth at wide receiver.

And while fulfilling those positions would create a much better football team suited for a deep postseason run, they are only secondary to the position that is the most important component of an NFL offense.

Because the Jets failed to address their issues on the offensive line, their biggest problem from last season should once again hinder the offensive rhythm, and ultimately, their ability to score points.

It doesn't matter how good a team's defense is—in the NFL, the name of the game is to outscore your opponent, and right now, it's questionable at best if the Jets can do that.

With suspect running backs, mostly inexperienced wide receivers and a general offensive scheme in the Wildcat that has only had as much success as the 2008 Miami Dolphins, having to overcome an offensive line that resembles Swiss cheese more than a brick wall may cripple the Jets' ability to put points on the board.

The Jets offensive line allowed 40 sacks in 2011, 13th most in the league. Among playoff teams, only the Packers (41), Steelers (42) and Broncos (42) allowed more sacks.

With the exception of the Packers, who throw all the time, which should result in more sacks, these teams had similar offensive production to the Jets. Had the Steelers and Broncos not played each other in the first round of the playoffs last year, all three of these teams may have gone winless in the playoffs.

Bottom line, if you can't protect the quarterback, you are going to run into problems, like these three teams did last season.

Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson needs to be more consistent. Since being drafted fourth overall by the Jets in 2006, Ferguson has been very up and down in his ability to protect the quarterback and open holes for the running back.

After giving up a team-high 9.5 sacks last season, Ferguson has to be better if Sanchez plans on surviving the season. It's a miracle Sanchez was able to play in every game last year, especially because there was an even larger hole on the right side of the line last season.

Wayne Hunter, perhaps the most infamous right tackle in football last season, allowed 8.5 sacks while committing 11 penalties over 16 games. The only thing more atrocious than those figures is the fact that not only did the Jets not cut him, but they continue to let him start at right tackle.

The Jets didn't bring in a single capable player who could outplay even the most beatable stat line, and how they can hold their breath in hoping Hunter has a better year baffles me.

It's not like he's a young stud just years removed from the draft. He's a 31-year-old who never started more than four games in a season six years into the league until, you guessed it, your favorite team in green and white believed he could make it All-Pro.

As of now, Austin Howard, Hunter's backup last season, is the only man standing in Hunter's way. After a fair performance in Hunter's place against the Bengals last Friday, Howard at least has the team considering a change, although much still has to be seen.

The worst part is that the Jets may have been able to get away with the offensive weapons at hand by addressing their offensive line needs, but failing to do so makes that chance much more uncertain.

With the exception of Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, the Jets are very limited in what they can do offensively. Shonn Greene has run worse every year as the offensive line has deteriorated, so it isn't a surprise that many are starting to have their doubts about what he can do.

The Jets want to play ground-and-pound, but there is no way they can effectively do that with the current personnel. For that kind of system, you need to have a solid offensive line—like in 2009 and 2010, when it had worked for the Jets.

But this current offensive line is much more porous than the one that reached back-to-back AFC Championship games and looks to be the Achilles' heel for the Jets.