We have said it time and time again, it all starts up front with the offensive line. When the offensive line falters, everything else on offense does as well, like the domino effect. If the offensive line is playing well, everything else seems to rise up to that level.
And that brings us to a key matchup of the week, Austin Howard at right tackle, vs Mario Williams from left defensive end. The Jets’ offensive line is in the processing of improving by week, while Mario is coming off of a 4.5 sack performance. Let’s take a look at how these two stack up:
HEIGHT Williams 6’6″ Howard 6’6″
WEIGHT Williams 292 lbs Howard 333 lbs
EXPERIENCE Williams 8th season Howard 4th season
AGE Williams 28 Howard 26
The next stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
PASS RUSH PRODUCTIVITY: Williams 15.1 (First in the NFL)
PASS BLOCKING EFFICIENCY: Howard 95.6 (Tie at 14th in NFL)
RUN DEFENSE: Williams -2.1
RUN BLOCKING: Howard -0.3
QUARTERBACK SACKS, HITS AND HURRIES ALLOWED: Howard one sack, one hit, three hurries
QUARTERBACK SACKS, HITS AND HURRIES: Williams 4.5 sacks, one hit, nine hurries
What can we learn from all of this? For one, that this is an absolutely crucial matchup that will do a lot to determine the outcome of the game. If Howard can keep Williams out of the backfield, the Jets’ chances to win increase dramatically. If Williams is chasing Geno Smith around all afternoon, there is a great chance of it being a long day.
Super Mario can be slowed, however. His grade of -2.1 against the run is direct evidence that he can be run upon, and Howard can block in the run game. Last season, his grade was near elite, and although he is only at -0.3 so far in 2013, the Jets’ line is improving in the run game week by week.
With a 95.6 pass block efficiency, Austin Howard is no slouch in the pass blocking game either. However, it will be a huge benchmark for him, going against the number one ranked pass rusher in pass rushing efficiency.
Most NFL games are decided in the trenches, and this one will be no different. This matchup here will tell a great deal of the story tomorrow afternoon.