Next, we preview the engine of the offense. This is the group that makes it go, the straw that stirs the drink if you will. No matter what happens with the competitions in parts I and II of this series, it won’t matter if this group doesn’t perform well.
Who am I talking about?
The heartbeat of an offense is the offensive line. When the line is going well, everything about the offense functions better. So let’s talk about the offensive line heading in to 2013 training camp.
First, we have who I will call our “mainstays”. Those will pretty obvious to anyone reading this post, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. These two guys are not going anywhere, locking up LT and C. Barring some sort of miracle, these two players will obviously be on the field come week one.
I am going to give you another player that I believe is a lock. There are a lot of mixed opinions about this player, but I believe his job is his to lose. That player is Austin Howard. People reference the fact that he gave up a lot of sacks, wasn’t good against the pass. This is true, but Austin WAS nearly elite in the running game. The Jets averaged 4 and 5 yards per carry going over the right side.
Remember, many teams were putting their best pass rusher up against the young Howard. That has to be taken into account. Austin will become better at protecting the passer, and he will be your right tackle.
So that leaves the two vacant guard positions.
The combatants: Willie Colon, Vladimir Ducasse, Oday Aboushi, Trey Gilleo, Mark Popek, Brian Winters, William Campbell, Stephen Peterman.
Let’s see, I am no mathematician, but that is a lot of competitors for two starting positions. Other than the quarterback competition, this could turn into the most interesting competition on the roster.
Despite the fact that he is the longest termed Jet amongst this group, I believe there is enough talent here to relegate Vladimir Ducasse to the bench. “Big Ugly” will do nothing more but serve as a mediocre backup.
Willie Colon will earn one of the starting positions. He has a chip on his shoulder based on being released by the Steelers, and has been a starter all his life. He started last season so he has plenty left. Willie Colon is looking to show the world that he can still play in this league, and he will do so as a member of the New York Jets.
The final spot will be between Aboushi, Campbell, Peterman, and Winters. William Campbell has stepped out early, catching the coaching staff’s eye. The Jets have converted him from defense to offense, and Campbell is picking up the system quite well. Peterman is a high quality veteran, and these draft picks will get their shot too.
This one is too early to tell.
Tune in tomorrow when we start on the defensive side of the ball.