For the past four years, the Jets offense has gone as the Jets Offensive Line has gone. Last year was the team’s worst performance since 2007, and we saw just what sort of results it yielded for the team. With the team not satisfactorily addressing it so far in the offseason, Rich Cimini wonders if the Jets aren’t whistling past the graveyard with their current depth chart.
The Jets are taking an enormous gamble, opting to stand pat at the right-tackle position. If Vladimir Ducasse doesn’t step up, they’ll go with the embattled Wayne Hunter, much to the chagrin of Jets fans. Suddenly, we’re starting to hear stuff from Rex Ryan about Tony Sparano’s system, how it will suit Hunter better than the previous system. In a radio interview last week, Ryan said Hunter was “isolated, one-on-one, for the majority of the time (last season) and I don’t know how many tackles hold up down after down that way.” Two thoughts: If Sparano’s system can protect suspect right tackles, how come Marco Columbo was a turnstile for the Dolphins? Didn’t Ryan always praise Bill Callahan as the best OL coach in the league?
Rex is always one to talk up whoever is on his staff, and never one to talk bad about his guys. So his tale about poor Wayne Hunter last year doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. Last year it was Brick who had virtually no help, not Hunter. While Hunter’s help might have been limited in the form of Mulligan & Keller, it was still more than help than Brick received all season long.
Being an Offensive Tackle in the NFL isn’t for everyone. That’s why during the pre-draft process many guys are busted back from Tackle to Guard … because they don’t have the skills to play the harder Tackle spot. Tackles are up against Defensive Ends or Outside Linebackers who are generally very fast and very strong. Good Tackles are rare because the must combine size, athleticism, speed, agility, great technique, a long reach to stack defenders and of course … old fashioned power.
Wayne Hunter might have some of those qualities, but for a start he lacks the agility and speed to be effective at Tackle spot. He might be able play very well inside, but putting forth Hunter as a Tackle has been bad news dating back to at 2008 when we saw him in some limited relief work for Woody. This isn’t news, everyone but the Jets seems to have known this for a long time.
We’ve seen the Ducasse train coming for a long time now. The Jets have been pointing to him all offseason long, in preparation of the revolt they know is coming soon from the fan base. The Jets are setting everything up for him to be the starter this year, like it or not. Ducasse has had some great moments, but he’s had some terrible ones too. Hunter might be ahead of him on the depth chart, but I’d wager that in the team’s mind, he’s their backup option. While Ducasse is certainly raw, he’s got more of the required skills necessary to play the spot than Hunter does … but then again so did Vernon Gholston over Bryan Thomas … how’d that turn out again?