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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Positional analysis: Offensive line

By Rich Cimini

This is part one of a nine-part review of the 2011 season, a position-by-position analysis:

Position: Offensive line

Overall grade (scale of 1 to 10): 7.5

Depth chart: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (16 starts/1,128 plays), LG Matt Slauson (16/1,128), C Nick Mangold (14/928), RG Brandon Moore (16/1,116), RT Wayne Hunter (16/1,122), C Colin Baxter (2/176), G Calen Schlauderaff (0/14), G Vladimir Ducasse (0/38), C Rob Turner (injured).

2011 headline: The mighty have fallen.

Gold star: Moore.

Disappointing: Hunter.

Stat check: In 2010, the Jets averaged 148.4 rushing yards per game. In 2011, they hit that number in only two games.

Analysis: In 2009 and 2010, this was one of the premier lines in the NFL, but the production dropped across the board. The Jets allowed one sack for every 14.7 dropbacks (down from 19.8 in '10) and they averaged only 3.8 yards per rush (down from 4.4). The line never found a rhythm or identity, in part, because of the early-season emphasis on the pass -- a departure from previous years.

Ferguson (9.5 sacks, two penalties) and Mangold (three sacks, three penalties) both made the Pro Bowl, but neither played as well as he did in 2010. Mangold was hampered by an ankle injury and Ferguson slipped as a run blocker. His sack total was high, but he often was left on an island because they had to slide the protection to Hunter's side.

Hunter (8.5 sacks, 11 penalties) was a terrific backup in '10, but he struggled in a full-time role. The weird thing is, he has the athleticism to be a good pass protector, but he often got caught off-balance. He was too inconsistent, slipping into funks when things got bad ... It took a few weeks for Moore (one sack, five penalties), coming off double-hip surgery, to find his rhythm as a run blocker, but he was exceptional in pass protection ... Slauson (2.5 sacks, four penalties) improved significantly as a pass protector in his second season as a starter, but his run blocking leveled off. But, hey, he scored on a fumble recovery, giving him only one less TD than Plaxico Burress over the last seven games.

2012 free agents: Turner (UFA).

On the bubble: Hunter.

Note: Play counts (includes penalties) from the web site Pro Football Focus. Sack totals provided by STATS, LLC.