In his most recent mailbag on ESPN Insider, Adam Schefter took two Jets questions. We’ll post both, but then also add any additional thoughts at the end of each question.
Q: Adam, the New York Jets just made the decision to bench Wayne Hunter. Can his replacement help? Are they looking to trade for a right tackle? – Patricia (New York)
A: In speaking to people around the league earlier in the week, it sounded as if benching Hunter was a move that was going to come sooner rather than later. The Jets happen to like Austin Howard, the offensive tackle replacing Hunter. They got him off the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad and believe he can be an effective starting tackle. He is expected to be the opening-day starter against the Buffalo Bills. Sure, the Jets are looking for offensive tackle help, but so is just about every other team in the league. At this time of the year, there isn’t a position that’s more in demand than offensive linemen. Funny how they’re devalued some on draft day — really, the interior linemen are — and then most teams are looking for those players at this time of the year. I don’t get that, but it happens. Anyway, Howard is the guy for now, there aren’t a lot of other alternatives.
I’m sure the Jets have been looking at trades and the waiver wire and will continue to do so as we near the season. But if they were going to make any moves, it would have already happened. Meaning, they wouldn’t have announced the switch without doing all their due diligence first. At this point, I would be surprised if the Jets do anything other than start Howard all season at the tackle spot — barring an injury or something of that kind. Most offensive lines rely on having a consistent group of players to get better protection and blocking production
If anything, I would keep an eye on Dennis Landolt’s recovery. Maybe I’m crazy, but I do think that the whole Dennis Landolt injury thing might have played into this as well. Landolt was playing backup right tackle while Howard was taking the more nuanced and pass blocking specific left tackle spot. Was Howard actually their second choice until Landolt got injured?
Q:How can the Jets fix their offense? It has looked pathetic in the preseason so far. – Mario (New Jersey)
A: Wait, we’re starting the mailbag with two Jets questions?!? We might want to get Hannah Storm and Sal Paolantonio to be guest writers for the mailbag, too … Here’s what the Jets are thinking, Mario: There’s nothing wrong with their offense. They haven’t game-planned a minute yet. They haven’t had Santonio Holmes. They haven’t showed anything. The Jets are talking as if they’re saving everything for opening day against Buffalo, and they might well be right. If New York comes out with different looks and different packages (and everything works), then everyone will know why the Jets looked so awful this summer. But if the scoring drought continues — through the first two preseason weeks, the Jets were the only team to not score a touchdown — then Jets fans are going to panic (and Patriots, Bills and Dolphins fans will rejoice).
Preseason wins and losses and points totals can’t be the end-all be-all of what the actual season will turn out like -but it is fair to say it gives us some guidance for what to expect. I don’t think that the 2012 Jets will be taking it back to the 1999 Rams offense, but I also don’t think that this is going to be the 1995 Jets. The truth lies somewhere in that very extreme middle.
Think back to recent champions, generally those teams do one thing extremely well and the other thing moderately well. The Jets defense is stacked this year and if the offense can be moderate, then I do think this team has a legitimate chance at a serious run. As Schefty points out, there’s been NO gameplanning, Tone hasn’t seen action and other serious contributors to the offense have been sidelined. Also, if the Wildcat is going to be a legitimate component of this offense, then the lack of it’s presence creates a big hole in how we’re able to evaluate this team. My thought is that the Jets would be unwise to show any of it before the season actually starts … it will give them a leg up on their opponents.