As the New York Jets head into the 2012 NFL season, they still have needs to address, one of which is offensive tackle. Last season Wayne Hunter was one of the worst offensive linemen in all of football, surrendering 8.5 sacks and committing 11 penalties. Head coach Rex Ryan has said that Hunter is the Jets right tackle “for now.” The Jets passed on several opportunities to draft a replacement for Hunter in the 2012 NFL Draft but chose to address other needs instead, specifically wide receiver and defensive end.
Ryan stating that Hunter, an eight-year veteran, is his starting right tackle “for now” isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement. New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has stated there will be an open competition for the right tackle job in training camp between Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse, the Jets second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. However, Ducasse has hardly been impressive in two training camps so far. Behind Ducasse are two unproven tackles in Austin Howard and Dennis Landolt. Howard was signed off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad and has a total of four NFL games under his belt including one start with the Philadelphia Eagles. Landolt has been on four different teams practice squads but has yet to make an active roster.
These are not exactly enticing options for Jets fans who might start to hide Hunter’s car on gameday just to avoid seeing quarterback Mark Sanchez getting flattened. Perhaps a veteran becomes available on the waiver wire towards the end of camp. However, good, serviceable offensive tackles are hard to come by so counting on one to fall into your lap is like putting your life savings into buying lottery tickets for a jackpot that is only a few dollars more than your savings.
Moving forward, the Jets need Ducasse to step up and become the player the Jets thought they were getting when they used a second-round pick on him. If he fails to beat out Wayne Hunter then the bust tag should be applied to him until he proves otherwise. Ducasse’s failure to develop has actually hindered the entire Jets offense at this point, forcing them to utilize an obviously overmatched Hunter and placing their quarterback’s health at risk. One way or another the Jets need to add depth at this position. Perhaps putting their savings into a lottery is worth it if it means not having Hunter starting on the offensive line.