How do you grade an offensive line? My first thoughts would be percentages of positive plays, number of negative plays, penalties, time of possession, and QB stats like hits, pressures, sacks, etc.
Through the first nine games of the season Geno Smith has been sacked 30 times. 16 Sacks in the first five games, and 14 in the next four games. This is a pretty even distribution considering the Jets have alternated wins and losses every game this year. 30 sacks is 3rd highest in the NFL behind Miami’s Tannehill who’s been sacked 35 times, and Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger who has been taken down 31 times.
In terms of total yards per game the Jets are 20th with an average of 331 yards per game. The Jets have run the ball 31 times per game which is actually 5th most in the NFL this year. Rushing which started out slow is now up to about 4.2 yards per carry which is also top 10 along with 1161 rushing yards. What does all of this tell you when it comes to the offensive line play? The running game is coming along faster than the passing game at this point in the season. Where the O-line needs to be dominant, it has, and the team has been able to lean on that at least two of the past three games. 130 yards a game on the ground is pretty good, but 200 yards passing is pedestrian in the long run.
Another statistic you want to check out when you want to see how your offensive line is performing are anything related to sustaining drives and time of possession. For a comparison the Denver Broncos average 28 first downs per game good for 1st in the NFL. The Jets average 18 first downs per contest, which is good for 26th. In terms of offensive penalties the Jets are 1st in the league with 76 penalties for 605 lost yards in real estate. Time of possession has the offense on the field 31:30 a game, compared to 28+ for the defense which is another good thing.
Individually the Jets average 4.96 YPC rushing off left end, 7th best in the NFL, or 4 yards per carry at left tackle directly behind Ferguson which is 13th best. Ferguson so far grades out as a top 10 left tackle in the NFL. Up the middle and to either gap, the average is down to 3.72 yards per carry, still middle of the pack. Mangold still earns top marks for his play, but is negated by Willie Colon’s penalties, and the revolving door at left guard. Here is where things get ugly. Running directly behind Austin Howard the 330 pound right tackle gets you 3 yards a pop, which is 26th in the NFL, and 3.7 if you run a pitch outside right tackle which is 18th.
D’brickashaw Ferguson – A
LG Bryan Winters/Vlad Ducasse – C
C Nick Mangold – A
RG Willie Colon – C+
RT Austin Howard – D
Total Offensive Line Grade- C+
As Bryan Winters grows into himself the Jets could have a solid if not spectacular offensive line. At some point the false starts and penalties will need to stop, because they are ending drives at an alarming rate, which is almost as bad as the turnovers we were all talking about earlier in the year.