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New York Jets: Reviewing the Offensive Line

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Nov 2, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets guard Willie Colon (66) and center Nick Mangold (74) on the line of scrimmage during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Today I’d like to take a look at the offensive line of the New York Jets. This group gathered plenty of criticism from fans for their struggles through 2014. Penalties and inconsistent play along the line hurt the offensive side of the ball last year. The Jets offense was less than adequate again last year, and the offensive line play didn’t help matters.

Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey and Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall will have their hands full this offseason. Along with Assistant Offensive Line Coach Ron Heller, they will need to come up with a plan going ahead. Starters from 2014 will need to be evaluated, along with the backups to determine the best plan going forward.

There will likely be additions made to the current roster via free agency and/or the draft. The Jets line is aging and replacements will be needed. Decisions will be interesting, and camp promises to see some competitions for starting roles. Let’s take a look at what the Jets have on their roster.

Next: 2014 Starters

Oct 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Jets tackle Breno Giacomini (68) and guard Willie Colon (66) and wide receiver Greg Salas (17) line up during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Willie Colon has very likely played his last snap as a member of the New York Jets. The huge 6’3″ 315 pound guard has had a long and successful career, but Colon turns 32 this spring. It has become apparent even to the novice observer that Colon is not the powerhouse at guard he once was. He has lost a step or two and it has shown as Colon led the Jets line in penalties.  The Jets need an upgrade here, and likely Colon will be gone.

Breno Giacomini was brought over from the Seattle Seahawks last year in free agency to solidify the Jets offensive line.  The 6’7″/ 318 lb tackle will be entering his 8th season and will be turning 30 years old. While Giacomini played adequately last season, he was a bit of a disappointment as well. Penalties and struggles in the pass blocking department brought him criticism from the fan base. Giacomini is back for another round in 2015, but the Jets will likely be looking to provide competition at the spot.

Oday Aboushi is a youngster along the offensive line for the Jets. Aboushi was drafted in the 2013 draft in the 5th round by the Jets. After red shirting his rookie campaign, Aboushi took over the starting job during the season from Brian Winters. Aboushi surprised many with his play in 2014. Down the stretch he anchored his position well, giving him a legitimate shot at a starting role in 2015.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson has been a long time anchor along the Jet line. Ferguson, taken in the first round, fourth overall in the 2006. Ferguson has been he ultimate professional for the Jets, and he’s played to his draft position through his entire career. Ferguson is aging however, over the last two season’s we’ve witnessed a drop off in his play. Fans have begun to criticize his play, and the new coaching staff will need to evaluate his game. Ferguson has football left in him. At 31, Ferguson could be back for another campaign next year. Ferguson still holds value, while likely approaching the latter part of his career, the Jets could opt to move him. For a team in need of an experienced tackle, Ferguson could be attractive.  Left Tackle is a position to keep an eye on this offseason.

Nick Mangold is a name we all know. Mangold has been the key clog in the Jet offensive line for years. Mangold is turning 32 this season going into his tenth season. Mangold has been a perennial All Pro Center for the Jets. He will again anchor the Jets in 2015 biding any shocking move by the Jets. Mangold has been struggling with injuries over the last couple of years, and will have some competition in camp this year. In what would be a controversial move, the new coaching staff might see him as a trade chip. Having made the 2014 Pro Bowl once again, its hard to imagine, but if his back up is seen as ready, Mangold would attract a bunch of suitors. It’s another position to keep an eye on this year.

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Next: The Back Ups

Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Brian Winters (67) walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Winters was supposed to be the answer at Left Guard when the Jets chose him in the third round of the 2013 draft. Winters is just entering his third year, but his play has been disappointing. Thrust into the starting role in his rookie season, Winters struggled mightily through 2013. His struggles again in 2014, brought him wide-spread criticism among the fans. He was ultimately replaced by Oday Aboushi. The 23 year old, 6’4″/320 lb Winters ended his 2014 campaign on injured reserve. Winters will need to compete for a spot in 2015. Oday Aboushi’s play last season makes him the favorite to start at guard. Winters is one to watch, can he come back and win the position, or will the Jets look to utilize him else where on the line? Keep your eyes on Winters.

Dalton Freeman was an undrafted center in 2013. He’s just 24 years old and the Jets are reportedly very high on him. Freeman played well while replacing Nick Mangold the last two seasons. The 6’5″/291 lb center will be back to compete at center this year. It’s a long shot that he could break into a starting role next season, but he will remain a key backup at the position.

Dakota Dozier was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Dozier has been described as a road grader in the run game. Highly touted by Rex Ryan last season, Dozier competed through camp last year and saw limited playing time. The new coaching staff will need to evaluate Dozier so he will likely be back to compete in 2015. Depending on how the new staff see Dozier, he could see time competing at guard or tackle. Some fans have claimed the Jets “stretched” choosing Dozier in the fourth round. Dozier will need to prove he belongs, but likely wins a backup role.

Ben Ijalana is a tackle taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 2011 draft. After playing in just four games in his rookie season, he tore his ACL and ended his season on injured reserve. Upon his return in 2012, Ijalana again tore an ACL in camp, again forcing him to end his season on injured reserve. The Jets picked him up in September of 2013 off waivers. The new coaching staff will need to evaluate Ijalana to determine what his future might be with the Jets. The 6’4″/317 lb., 25 year old tackle once had a bright future, but injuries have set him back to the fringes of the Jets roster. Ijalana will need to prove he can stay healthy and elevate his game to win a spot this season.

Sean Hooey is a monstrous 6’9″/ 308 lb. tackle. He’ll be entering his second year as a pro. He was Mike Maccagnan’s first official signing as the new Jets GM. Hooey  will need to prove his worth to earn a contract and win a spot.

Wesley Johnson was a 5th round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014. Johnson measures out at 6’5″/295lbs, and he will be 25 years old going into 2015. Viewed as a project when drafted by the Steelers, Johnson will have his work cut out for him in what promises to be a crowded competition at tackle.

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Next: The Approach

Jan 21, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets new general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks during a press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports

Mike Maccagnan along with Chan Gailey and his staff have their work cut out for them this season. They are faced with an aging line that played poorly in 2014. They have some depth behind the starters, but much of it is young and inexperienced. Maccagnan will likely be looking into upgrades for the tackle and guard positions in free agency and the draft. Gailey will need to hold competitions across the board, looking to see if any of the depth can be plugged in over aging starters.

As we all know, a productive offense starts in the trenches of the offensive line. The 2015 Jets will need upgrades for any QB to be successful. The coaching staff is new, Chan Gailey likely brings a whole new scheme into play as well. The Jets have concerns along the line. It promises to be an interesting watch going ahead.

The Jets approach to the line may prove very interesting. Will Maccagnan and Gailey look to plug in key additions to improve the line for 2015? Or do they look to move some of their aging talent and start over with a new younger group in 2015? Can any of the back ups displace starters in camp? Will Maccagnan be aggressive in free agency along the line? Or will the Jets look at one of the top OL in the first round?

There are many questions concerning the offensive line to be answered in the upcoming months. In my opinion the line must be a priority this season. The line has been neglected for many years by the Jets under Rex Ryan. Will Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan see it as a top priority and move to fix it? Time will tell.

What’s your take? Do the Jets already have the pieces? Who are your projected starters for 2015? Who’s your favorite FA for the Jets here? How about the draft? Do the Jets go OL in the first? Lot’s to discuss on this topic! Let’s hear your thoughts! Let’s talk Jets football!!

Next: Mock Draft: Jets Take Quarterback or They Don't

 

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