As we get ready for the 2014 season, there is a lot of focus on the quarterback position, as it should be. We all know that we need effective quarterback play to be successful. We also need weapons, which have been added, in the form of Chris Johnson and Eric Decker to name a couple.
However, there is a unit that is also key to an improved season. We have talked about them many, many times, as being the key to making the entire offense better. Today, we are going to repeat it, and show some numbers to back it up.
A major key to the New York Jets this upcoming season, especially on offense, is the offensive line. With the offensive line goes the offense, period. If the line is playing well, the offense will look good, if not it won’t.
Let’s look at some numbers, courtesy of Football Outsiders. They have used their unique formulas to put a value on offensive line play, and looking at it from the beginning of the Rex Ryan era, there are parallels that are more than obvious.
Go back to year one, the Jets were 9-7, and got on a roll that ended in the AFC title game. If we look at their Outsiders numbers, the line was ranked sixth in run blocking, but 23rd in pass blocking. Makes sense, they were a terrific running team back then, and with Mark Sanchez being a rookie, the Jets faced a lot of blitzes.
Jump ahead to 2010, the best year for the Jets during the Rex Ryan era so far. The Jets went 11-5, and looked pretty good until they fell just short of the Super Bowl once again. The offensive line play went up right along with the team overall, as the line was ranked third in run blocking, and eighth in pass blocking.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
2011 the Jets took a step back, missing the playoffs and going 8-8. The line took a step back as well, dropping to seventh in the run game, and 17th in the passing game.
2012 bucks the trend a little bit, as the Jets went 6-10, but the run blocking moved up marginally, from seventh to fifth. The pass blocking, however, dropped all the way down to 30th.
As the Jets moved up to 8-8 last year, the passing game moved up to 27th. They were 21st in the run attack, but part of that is because the focus of the offense was changing a bit, thanks to Marty Mornhinweg.
The point? No matter how many weapons the Jets add or don’t add, if the offensive line doesn’t play well, it won’t matter.