Balance is key to NFL offensive game plans; a quarterback needs to have a running game to take pressure off when he drops back to pass. Of course, it all depends on the men up front creating space. Offensive lineman are usually men of massive size and great strength. These are unheralded difference makers who often don’t receive proper praise like star quarterbacks or receivers. Looking at the New York Jets, this unit had mixed results in 2013.
Gang Green enjoyed a solid running game for most of this past season. On the other hand, pass protection proved to be inconsistent. Quarterback Geno Smith constantly felt pressure from opposing defenses. Each member of New York’s front line had good moments though, so GM John Idzik really must go through each position, as he says he will. For this discussion, analyzing each starter from last year and their prospects for next season is something I will focus on.
Center Nick Managold represents one of the best at his position. His upper body strength and footwork allow him to hold his blocks. This will be Mangold’s ninth season, but he shows no sign of slowing down. Therefore, no replacement is needed as of now.
Brian Winters brings much intrigue by presenting such potential. Switching from his collegiate position of left tackle made this guard’s rookie year even more difficult. Struggling at times is not enough to cast doubt. He will get better in the future. Vladimir Duccasse was a bust from day one, and I believe he should be released. Despite being “older” by league standards, Willie Colon should be retained on a reasonable two-year deal. Austin Howard played decently last season, but I’m not convinced he is an elite right tackle. Idzik should use either a mid-round selection or a free agent push him. D’Brickashaw Ferguson continues to be a great left guard and is not going anywhere.
Overall, with a few tweaks, this unit should be solid next year.