- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With each sack in the first half, a quick glance at the video replay generally revealed the same culprit on the offensive line. Right tackle Wayne Hunter could not shore up his side, and quarterback Mark Sanchez was knocked to the ground four times as a result.
“Each preseason game is kind of a test to see where you are with your offense,” Dustin Keller said, “and today I don’t think we stepped up to the test and we have some making up to do.”
The Jets offense struggled -- the first team didn’t convert on any of its six third-down attempts -- and couldn’t even wrestle a field goal from the Giants defense. No one was pointing fingers specifically at Hunter in the locker room after the 26-3 preseason loss to the Giants -- no one except Hunter himself.
“I’ve got flaws I need to work on obviously,” Hunter said.
Twice he let Jason Pierre-Paul roll him for a sack, and Justin Tuck got credit for half a sack on another play when matched up with Hunter. It would have been more, but another sack by Tuck was nullified when Osi Umenyiora was called for offsides.
Rex Ryan said he had a hard time believing the breakdowns could all be attributed to Hunter, and that he would watch film to see if other protections broke down.
“If you’re isolated 1-on-1, (Pierre-Paul is) going to beat a lot more than Wayne Hunter,” Ryan said. “He’s going to beat a lot of tackles.”
But Hunter took responsibility for his mistakes.
“For me it was more technically than anything,” Hunter said. “Just need to get my legs back. And hopefully next week get a better showing and see if I can get something rolling before the season starts.
Hunter was the same member of the offensive line singled out by critics for poor play last season, although he wasn’t the only weak link.
“I’ve learned to get past that,” Hunter said. “It’s a new season, it’s preseason. I got to get better or you’re going to find someone else; that’s the name of the game.”
The team tried to bring in veteran lineman Jeff Otah, but he never passed his physical to validate the trade.
Hunter hasn’t had his usual number of training camp reps with a back injury, and he is also learning a rejiggered offense under new coordinator Tony Sparano.
“It’s all pretty much the same stuff we have had before, it’s just called different things,” guard Matt Slauson said. “We are just trying to get our timing and continuity down. I’m confident that we will be fine.”
The team has two more weeks to get the offense ready for primetime.
“I need to get this right before the season starts because that’s when it’s going to count,” Hunter said. “That first game doesn’t get any easier with (Buffalo pass rusher) Mario (Williams) coming in.”
3dField Yates and Rich Cimini