Preseason BGA: Jets at Lions – Part Two (Offense: Line Play)

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

This analysis is based on watching and re-watching TV footage. As such, it is not always possible to accurately determine everything that was going on. However, every effort has been made to ensure that the information below is as complete and correct as possible.

BGA is back…and this time it’s preseasonal (again)!

We’re breaking down last night’s 26-17 loss to the Lions. Part one (with detailed analysis of the quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and receivers) is here if you missed it. Here in part two, we’re focusing entirely on the offensive line.

Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle. It’s good to be back!

As promised, before we get into the individual player analysis, I’m going to start by sharing the first gif of the preseason with you. It’s a perfect example of preseason dysfunction, with some people doing their job and others screwing up. It’s up to me to try and figure out which is which.

This play is one I referred to in part one where I said this:

There was some kind of mix-up on one of [Bilal Powell’s] carries in the first quarter where he was tackled for a loss. D’Brickashaw Ferguson had turned his man to the outside and Stephen Peterman had turned his man to the inside, leaving a huge lane for Powell to run through. However, at the snap, Powell ran laterally, away from Sanchez and Sanchez had to stretch to even get the ball to him. This meant the run was slow in developing and Ferguson, having made his block, peeled off to the second level only for his original man to blow up the run because Powell wasn’t through the hole yet as expected.

Let’s look at this play now, since we’re moving on to look at the offensive line play in detail.

As you can see, Powell gets the ball, but doesn’t manage to exploit the hole created by Peterman and Ferguson because he hits the hole too late. Clearly either Sanchez or Powell needs to make some kind of adjustment there so that Powell can hit the hole earlier – or maybe Ferguson needs to sustain his block and let Nick Mangold take care of the second level. In fact, this looks like it’s a sprint draw – one of Mornhinweg’s favorite plays and one I broke down in detail here. That being the case, I think Mangold would usually be supposed to fold behind the left guard and lead Powell’s way through the hole, unless this is a slightly different version or some kind of play to set that up.

If it is a sprint draw, then maybe the blame lies with Sanchez for not getting the ball to Powell quickly enough, as he should be sprinting towards him at full speed so that he gets the ball further back but earlier and can then make a read and build up some momentum.

What you perhaps didn’t notice at first was Kellen Winslow (#81) over on the left side of the screen. Who said he can’t block?

On the whole, I was relatively pleased with how the offensive line (even the second string) blocked as a unit. They seemed to form clean pockets and allow for some good downfield throws. However, there were obviously some early season cobwebs to shake loose because there were plenty of individual errors. The running game was not at all productive, but on the bright side they did manage to get through the first half without giving up a sack. There were also seven penalties by offensive linemen.

First Unit

Let’s start with Mangold and Ferguson. I don’t think I need to analyze in any great detail what these two players did because the type of players they’re going to be once the season gets underway has long been established. Ferguson looked in midseason form in pass protection, which is particularly notable because of how dynamic the Lions defensive linemen were in making a series of plays against other Jets linemen. He also made one good seal block in the running game, although it’s not easy to rate the run blocking performance because a lot of well-executed blocks did not result in successful plays due to someone else’s error. As for Mangold, he did a good job on a short yardage play and at the point of attack, but his most impressive play saw him move across laterally to save Austin Howard after he got beaten and still allow the throw to be made. There was one play where his man got off his block and into the backfield but the pass was thrown well before the pressure arrived.

Either, both or neither of them may have been at fault on the play in the above gif, but it’s hardly a major concern. They just need to continue to build chemistry with the others now.

Mangold had said something very revealing in the media about how having five experienced veterans allows them to change things up on the offensive line because they can all handle that and evidence of this was seen in yesterday’s game. This speaks volumes as to why Stephen Peterman is currently starting rather than someone like rookie Brian Winters (who missed the game with an ankle injury). While Winters or someone like Vladimir Ducasse might grade out better over the course of the season, if Peterman’s inclusion enables them to operate more smoothly then a guy like Winters may not be able to unseat him until he’s capable of handling the same adjustments.

Despite that, Peterman does need to keep up a certain level of play to retain that role and based on last night’s game, he does need to improve his efficiency. Peterman allowed his man to stunt around Ferguson for a big hit on Sanchez and was also badly beaten outside for a pressure on another play where he ended up committing a holding penalty. He wasn’t much better in the running game, missing one block and getting driven back into the runner on another play. However, he was able to function with the rest of the line, which is valuable in and of itself. He did block his man to the ground on one play, but most of these mistakes were reminiscent of the things than concerned me about him when I studied the 2012 film.

At the other guard spot, Willie Colon hasn’t totally settled in yet, but was more comfortable than Peterman, despite getting called for two penalties (a false start and a hold) and getting into a fight. He had one good run block and dealt with a bullrush well in pass protection, but he also missed a pulling block to the left. Colon didn’t surrender any pressures, although he was beaten on the play where he got called for a hold. That was a totally unnecessary penalty as Sanchez got rid of the ball well before pressure would have got to him.

Finally, in terms of the starters, Austin Howard did surrender some pressure and had his hands full with the Lions defensive ends, although I continue to be impressed with his ability to recover and prevent his man from getting to the quarterback even when he’s been beaten. He did give up three pressures, one on a bullrush where he was able to anchor himself just in time and also allowed his man to bat down a pass on one play. On twitter, Seth Walder said that Howard was “torched” by a spin move on the play where Sanchez was picked off, but it’s possible that was supposed to be a free release anyway. He also uncharacteristically missed a couple of blocks in the running game, but hopefully he will develop chemistry with Colon and they’ll eventually be a force to be reckoned with.

That’s if Colon remains as the right guard, of course. It does seem strange that Colon (who played left guard last year and has never played right guard before in the NFL) is the right guard and Peterman (who started at right guard for seven years in Detroit) is the left guard, but I wonder if that’s a sign that they expect Winters to take over at left guard sooner rather than later and want Colon to get comfortable with his expected role.

One interesting observation – they didn’t run any stretch plays to the outside with the starters (or the reserves), despite the fact we’ve been led to believe that will be a staple of their running game. There were some inside zone runs, but also some man blocking assignments by the looks of it.

Second Unit

Onto the backups. As Bassett noted this morning, it was a rough debut for Oday Aboushi, who not only false started on his first ever snap, but also got badly beaten on his second snap, letting his man into the backfield. He actually got better after that, which sounds ridiculous considering he had two more penalties and gave up a strip sack, but at that stage just having some plays where he carried out his assignment without a mistake is an improvement. Before it was over, he did show some of the potential that the Jets obviously saw in him to spend a fifth round pick on him, as he blocked down on a linebacker and drove him out of the play so that the runner could go up the middle. Hopefully he can build on that, but his roster chances don’t look strong right now.

Dennis Landolt showed some promise as a run blocker while playing tackle in 2011 and was on the second unit last year before getting hurt ahead of the first preseason game. Even though he missed preseason, the Jets – who had listed Landolt as a guard, but put him on their depth chart at tackle – kept him on their active roster for a few weeks while he was still injured. This summer, they have moved him permanently to guard and I was eager to see how he would perform. Unfortunately, he got hurt late in the third quarter, so may end up back on the shelf. Prior to that, he had struggled anyway, giving up a couple of pressures and a hit and struggling to deal with a bullrush. He didn’t make much of an impact in the running game, either, as he was blown up into the backfield on one play.

At center, Caleb Schlauderaff was okay in the running game, but didn’t fare as well in pass protection. There were some breakdowns on the line in terms of double teams and guys releasing their blocks prematurely and he was involved in a few of these, a couple of which led to the quarterback getting hit.

Vladimir Ducasse is always interesting to watch in these games and he acquitted himself well initially, before falling off towards the end of the game. Although the running game didn’t have much success, his run blocking was good, with one drive block, one seal block and a well-executed seal-and-peel standing out. He also made a good block on the screen pass to Spann, diving into the tackler’s path to spring him into the open field. In pass protection, he was less successful, as he was involved in (albeit not completely responsible for) two sacks.

The first came on a mix-up with the right tackle, JB Shugarts. What was disconcerting about that play was that Ducasse seemed unsure of who he was supposed to be blocking on the play and by the time he figured it out, it was too late. He hasn’t looked lost like that since 2011. I had said all along that the only thing that will prevent Ducasse from competing for a starting role is if he struggles to pick up the new system and maybe that’s what is happening. Ducasse wasn’t the only person confused on that play though, so the problem could be attributed to the quarterback or maybe the center because mixed messages were obviously sent out. Ducasse let the player who registered the sack go past him on his right shoulder and was obviously expecting Shugarts to be there, but Shugarts was busy picking up a rusher off the edge. However, there were two guys coming off the edge and the two backs in the backfield both stayed in to block which should have freed up Shugarts to take that man. This was the play where Mossis Madu collided with Greg McElroy and it’s difficult to see how Madu was supposed to get over to make that block without colliding with the quarterback, so it was obviously a screwed up protection on more than one level.

The second sack Ducasse gave up saw him allow his man to leverage his way into the backfield, but McElroy had time and room to rollout and escape. However, he allowed himself to be tackled from behind. Ducasse gave up one other pressure and was also called for a hold in pass protection so he clearly needs to get comfortable with the protection schemes as soon as possible. With Landolt’s injury and Aboushi’s apparent rawness, it seems even more certain that Ducasse will be needed to back-up at both guard and tackle. However, if he can’t get to grips with the system, they’ll perhaps have to seek depth from outside the organization.

Finally, JB Shugarts manned the right tackle position and didn’t fare too badly at all. His major weakness that I noted from the film was an inability to prevent penetration in the running game, but this wasn’t an issue for him last night. He did block the wrong guy on one play and allowed his man to spin off his block to make a tackle on another, but on the whole didn’t embarrass himself and even showed some fire by getting involved in a fight following an extra point attempt. He did give up one pressure on a screen pass and one other time he was beaten due to not getting his hands on his opponent but the pass was thrown before his man could generate pressure.

Third Stringers

When Landolt got injured, sixth round pick William Campbell entered the game. He moved to right guard and Ducasse slid across to the left. Campbell got beaten inside for a pressure and failed to sustain a block on the pull, but showed ability in the running game with a good second level block. He definitely had a better start to his career than Aboushi.

While Ducasse and Shugarts stayed in with Campbell, Ryan Cook replaced Schlauderaff at center and Trey Gilleo replaced Aboushi as left tackle for the last series (a three and out). There were two short completions and a sack on the series and both held their own on the two passes, but perhaps could have done better on the sack, as Gilleo kind of got in Ducasse’s way and Cook, who blocked nobody, probably should have been able to drop back and help him out.

Part three will cover the defensive front seven and part four will cover the secondary and special teams. We’ll be posting these throughout the day.