NFL Preseason 2012: Jets' Hunter Needs to Trust Himself

Adam WaksmanCorrespondent IIIAugust 21, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  (L-R) Offensive linemen D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60, Matt Slauson #68, Nick Mangold #74, Brandon Moore #65 and Wayne Hunter #78 of the New York Jets look towards quarterback Mark Sanchez in the huddle against the Dallas Cowboys during their NFL Season Opening Game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

New York Jets right tackle Wayne Hunter has been as maligned and ridiculed as any player in the NFL this offseason.

Former Jets tackle Damien Woody provided some perspective on Hunter's preseason woes, saying that the man needs to trust himself (via Metro New York).

Hunter has been called one of the worst starting right tackles in the NFL. While Woody argued that Wayne Hunter does deserve his starting spot, he added:

A lot of times what happens—you have a bad play and it’s a snowball effect... The one thing I always told Wayne was to trust his athletic ability. He’s a big, tall, strong guy with great feet—trust it.

What Woody seems to be driving at is the fact that Hunter is an extremely athletic player, but when he gets beaten, he gets beaten badly. In the last preseason game against the New York Giants, Hunter was only beaten by his man on four plays. However, all four of those plays resulted in sacks (one was called back by penalty). Once Hunter loses a step on his man, he does a terrible job of recovering, which may be more of a mental problem than a physical one.

For better or worse, Wayne Hunter is very much aware of the criticism he receives and has been hard on himself. Of his starting job he said:

It’s always been on the line. It’s not a surprise. Either I perform or they’ll find someone who is better.

Wayne Hunter is a name we will hear over and over again this year. He is the obvious weak point on an other wise strong offensive line. There is no physical reason he cannot handle defensive linemen the way he did in the 2011 playoffs.

Most importantly for Jets' fans, there is no viable alternative. Wayne Hunter is the starter for the 2012 season—barring a miracle—and he will have to play well for the Jets to win the AFC East.