By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
The hard-working folks over at Pro Football Focus had an article out today ranking all of the offensive lines in the NFL based on their ranking system, which is in turn based on careful tape study.
To the surprise of many, the Jets’ unit wound up as the third-best unit in the NFL, with only the Patriots and 49ers grading out ahead of them.
The Jets offensive line has unfairly taken a lot of the blame this season for the Jets’ offensive ineptitude. Casual fans look at the 11 sacks given up to Greg McElroy against the Chargers and assume that the line is awful. Truth is, the Jets do not have enough talent to either take advantage of good line play or hide any deficiencies.
Every starting offensive lineman graded out positively only Vladimir Ducasse had a neutral rating by the end of the season. Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore were their usual dominant, consistent selves and D’Brickashaw Ferguson got his career back on track after a poor 2011 outing. Austin Howard played rather well at right tackle, which only makes you wonder why he was not starting over Wayne Hunter earlier in the preseason.
They had a bit of a rough start to the season, being completely dominated by the 49ers and struggled to protect against the Steelers in Week 2, but it is not like they are the only line in the NFL to struggle against two of the best defenses in the NFL. Greg McElroy’s 11 sacks were mostly a result of him holding onto the ball for too long and walking right into opposing defensive lineman.
The biggest problem with the Jets’ line is that three of them are set to be free agents, including both starting guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson and Howard at right tackle. If they do not retain at least one of them, it will severly hamper what they will be able to do in the draft.
In any case, this study proves that the core of the Jets problems lie at their deficiencies and depth at the skill positions, not along the offensive line.