We all know that so long as Rex Ryan remains head coach of the New York Jets, defense will be the bedrock of the team. For this year at least, general manager John Idzik has bought into that philosophy, drafting Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
But the main misconception that I have noticed is that if a team focuses on defense, it can’t be good on offense. This is completely false, and a mature fan knows that the offense can grow and become substantial along with a stout defense. Just look at the San Francisco 49ers.
My theory on Idzik’s overall plan for this team shall be told another day. For now, let’s focus on what us Jets fans have to work with at the moment on offense. And one of the crowning jewels of this offense is center Nick Mangold, a.k.a. “Chubby Thor.”
The offensive line does not showcase flashy stats like other positions, so much analysis for their positions boil down to play as a group and character in the locker room.
Now as a group, Mangold has headed a unit that has fallen short of expectations, especially when you consider that just two years ago they were considered to be one of the best in the NFL. D’Brickashaw Ferguson has been a great asset, but many other players alongside Mangold have questions. And given the drop off in the Jets running game and sacks allowed, I would say those stats are warranted.
But what of the man? What of the leader? In that regard, this offseason has been one of maturation for the center. In the month of June, Mangold was eager to take the role of “father-figure” for the now young team. And part of that has been his staunch defence of quarterback Mark Sanchez. As Rich Cimini of ESPN reported, Mangold went on the record saying:
“I haven’t walked around with a pen and paper and taken a poll, but from the feeling I get, the locker room wants to win. Whoever gives us the best chance to do that, we want out there — and at this point, Mark gives us that best chance.”
Mangold sees it as his duty to calm the locker room and firmly establish Sanchez as the Jets’ starter on day one. At the moment, Geno Smith has been reportedly lagging behind in his understanding of the new offense. Thus Mangold’s faith in Sanchez may not be questioned (any more than it has been the past two seasons).
But the quarterback position is not the only area Mangold has extended his calming influence. Mangold talked to Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger.
“It’s a bunch of little steps along the way and you want to get those accomplished,” Mangold said. “The first one is get together with (Stephen) Peterman, get together with Willie (Colon) and try to build those bonds. Then when rookies came in, get to know the rookies. Work with (offensive line) coach (Mike Devlin), who’s working on keeping things the same but also making them his own, and seeing how that works out.
It will fall squarely on Mangold’s shoulders to get these separate pieces of hulking men into a single, impenetrable barrier of an offensive line in the next two months. With Sanchez, Smith and the running backs hoping to make dents, it will all begin with “Chubby Thor’s” efforts.
Jeremy is a Jets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him/her on Twitter JeremyGoldstei1, “Like” him/her on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.