New York Jets: Offensive Line Woes Leave Rex Ryan's Men Punchless in Preseason
It has been an interesting offseason for professional football in the New York metropolitan area. It is a tale of two teams, one stadium and a phenomenon that is the first of its kind in recent National Football League history.
One of the tenants of MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey swamps has been in the headlines most of the offseason and for all of the training camp and preseason period.
They made a high-profile quarterback acquisition in March, and the talk since then has been about that quarterback and the incumbent, how they will co-exist, what the role of the newcomer will be, and so on.
The other tenant of MetLife Stadium is the defending Super Bowl champion. For reals! You can look it up and everything. I swear I’m not making this up.
If the battle was winning the back page of the New York tabloids, the Jets won in a first-round knockout. The Giants won a Super Bowl while representing the largest market in North American professional sports, yet based on the coverage they’ve received in their own hometown, Big Blue would seem to be prime candidates for one of those old “Do you know us?”American Express commercials from the 1970s and 1980s.
I am not one to put a lot of stock in what I see in the preseason. In a sport of strategy and preparation and game-planning, there isn’t much of any of those in place in August.
Game plans are pure vanilla on both sides of the ball and coaches are looking more for execution and crispness from the first units during their usually brief appearances on the field, then spend the rest of the game mixing and matching spare parts to see which players stand out enough in the vacuum of playing at something approximating game conditions to earn one of the 53 coveted roster spots.
How worried are you about the Jets' offense?
That being said, it doesn’t take expert-level critical thinking or Sherlock Holmes-esque deductive ability to see that the New York Jets have been awful on offense during the preseason, something that doesn’t bode well at all as the calendar rolls into September and the games start to count.
The offensive production goes a little something like this through the Jets’ first three preseason games: Nick Folk has kicked four field goals. Josh Brown has kicked three more.
That’s it, folks; nothing else to see here.
The offense has been so inept that the New York Post saw fit earlier this week to recycle an ancient joke involving a “white powdery substance” on the field.
While the discussion all preseason—heck, ever since Tim Tebow arrived from Denver—has centered on the quarterback position and whether Mark Sanchez will hold off Tebow and retain the starting job, there are problem areas just about everywhere one looks when observing the Jets’ offensive unit.
The offensive line has been awful. The unit surrendered seven sacks in an ugly 26-3 loss to the Giants in the second week of the preseason, five to the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener and four to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night.
I’m not a math whiz, but 16 sacks in three games projects to about 85 sacks over a 16-game schedule. That would be the second-highest total in league history, behind only the 1986 Philadelphia Eagle squad that allowed 104 sacks.
The Jets tried to address the offensive line woes earlier this week, trading incumbent right tackle Wayne Hunter, who had been benched in favor of journeyman Austin Howard after the Giants game, to the St. Louis Rams for former No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith, who failed to live up to expectations after coming out of Baylor in 2009.
The offensive line problems extend to the running game. The “ground-and-pound” philosophy spoken of so often by head coach Rex Ryan has more resembled the grinding of a garbage disposal this preseason.
The Jets have averaged 104.7 rushing yards through three practice games at a 3.9 yards per carry clip. But the numbers are a bit deceiving.
Take away Tebow and Sanchez and you find the running backs (Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, Terrance Ganaway and fullback John Connor) have run the ball 66 times for 213 yards—a less-than-stellar 3.2 yards a pop.
The receiving corps, meanwhile, consists of Santonio Holmes, who has only played once in the preseason and caught one pass for eight yards. Rookie Stephen Hill has shown flashes of competence but has been more renowned so far for the passes he hasn’t caught.
Add everything up and what you have is an offense that has produced seven field goals, zero touchdowns and five turnovers.
That’s hardly the stuff championships are built on.
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