August 20, 2012
A big reason for the Jets struggles thus far in preseason as well as their struggles down the stretch last season come down to one man. That man is right tackle Wayne Hunter. While many have talked about the struggles of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, the maine issue for the Jets comes at offensive line. The quarterbacks have no time to get rid of the ball. Hunter allowed 2.5 sacks in his preseason debut on Saturday against the Giants.
Hunter was an issue for the Jets last season as well. The Jets did nothing this offseason to improve an offensive line that was not very good last year. In an offense where the Jets hope to run the ball a lot, a good offensive line is critical. Hunter has been the main reason for their failure. He has a lot of trouble containing the bigger, stronger, quicker defensive linemen. Rex Ryan said that there is no guarantee that Hunter will be the starter. The loss of Jeff Otah turned out to be huge for the Jets. Otah failed his physical and had to be sent back to the Carolina Panthers. The Jets play Otah and the Panthers in their next preseason game. Hunter’s backup, Austin Howard, could see some playing time with the starters when the two teams meet Sunday.
GM Mike Tannenbaum needs to fill this void for the Jets. This team wants to run a ground and pound and use the wildcat effectively with Tebow. This team will see no success on offense if they keep putting Hunter out there to get exposed. Good defenses will have Sanchez and Tebow on the ground all day long. Sacks will result in loss of yards, loss of games, and loss of players. The more the quarterback gets hit, the better chance of an injury. Sanchez has had multiple injuries in his career thus far, and one hard hit by a 300 pound lineman could put him out.
Gang Green needs to hope that backup Austin Howard can take over for Hunter. If not, they need to make a move for a right tackle. The team did not do nearly enough this offseason to make this 8-8 team last season that much better. With the defending AFC Champion Patriots only getting better this offseason, the task to get to the playoffs becomes that much tougher. The Bills are also expected to compete for an AFC East title. They are young and much improved this season and many expect Buffalo to be competitive in the AFC this year.
It is time for Rex Ryan to send a message to this team. If this offense wants to score points, let alone win games, they need some protection for their quarterback and for their running game. Shonn Greene is just not good enough to take over a game on the ground. When the Jets offensive line played well is when we saw Greene play his best. While the receiving depth is weak, Sanchez and Tebow need a little help on the front line for any chance at redemption this season after missing out on the playoffs in 2011.