As the New York Jets head into the new league year it is time to start analyzing the roster in order to identify team needs. In this edition we will review the offensive line which in years past was considered one of the strengths of the team.
Starters: Left Tackle- D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Left Guard- Matt Slauson (Free agent), Center- Nick Mangold, Right Guard- Brandon Moore (Free agent), Right Tackle - Austin Howard (Restricted free agent)
2012 Offensive line rankings
Sacks: 47 (ranked 27th in the NFL)
QB hits: 76 (ranked 19th in the NFL)
Rushing yards: (ranked 12th in the NFL)
It is very difficult to assess the performance of the offensive line as there were several contributing factors to the unit's struggles. It is hard to establish a legitimate running game when the passing game is less than effective. It is challenging to get the passing game going when the rushing attack is inept. It is tough to put together a game plan when the offense does not have an identity.
As we look forward to 2013 the Jets will have to make a decision on three of their offensive linemen.
Matt Slauson: The fact that the Jets force fed Vlad Ducasse reps in 2012 more than likely means that Slauson will not return in 2013. I am not completely sold on Vlad being the starter in 2013, but time will tell. Don't be surprised to see a rookie brought in for some legitimate competition for the starting spot.
Brandon Moore: I think that the Jets will try to re-sign Moore as he is a valuable veteran presence on the right side. As with other positions on the team, Gang Green will not break the bank to retain Brandon.
Austin Howard: The Jets remain high on Howard and I expect to him to be the starter at right tackle in 2013.
Outlook: The Jets must add depth on the offensive line starting at the guard position. Ducasse is shaky at best and Moore (assuming that he re-signs) is no spring chicken. Gang Green can look to the draft for help or to free agency where there are several veterans available.
In terms of performance the transition to the west coast offense could take some pressure off of the line as the quarterback should get rid of the ball much quicker than in years past. The Jets are very fortunate to have Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson as the pillars of their offensive line.