Study: Significant drop in Jets' OL play

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
10:58
AM ET
In 2009 and 2010, the Jets owned the top-rated offensive line in the NFL, based on the in-depth evaluations of Pro Football Focus, a stats-based web site.

In 2011, the once-formidable line dropped all the way to ... 12th. In the grand scheme, that isn't all that bad, it just seemed worse at the time because the Jets had raised the standard so high.

Obviously, this is highly subjective, but PFF rated the Jets' line 14th in run blocking, 14th in pass blocking and 11th in penalties. C Nick Mangold graded out the best, RT Wayne Hunter graded out the worst.

Interesting side note: The Giants won the Super Bowl with the 31st-rated line, overcoming the deficiency because of Eli Manning and his uncanny ability to play pitch-and-catch with his outside playmakers, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Obviously, this was an exception to the rule; teams with bad O-lines usually stink.

The Jets' line struggles had a major impact on QB Mark Sanchez, who took an inordinate amount of hits and didn't handle the pressure well. Under pressure, he completed only 36.1 percent of his passes, with only three touchdowns and an awful 37.4 passer rating, per PFF.

Clearly, fixing the line is one of the top off-season priorities, but how? Hunter's $2.45 million salary is guaranteed, so it looks like he'll be back. No doubt, the stubborn Jets will give disappointing former No. 2 pick Vladimir Ducasse another chance to win a starting job, probably at right tackle. LG Matt Slauson is coming off major shoulder surgery, so his spot could be in jeopardy. There could be opportunities to use their first-round pick (16th overall) on an O-lineman.

With Mangold, RG Brandon Moore and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson still in place, the Jets have a solid foundation. If they can find a right tackle that can pass block, they should be able to regain their reputation as a strength, not a weakness.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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