After head coach Todd Bowles’ announcement of Breno Giacomini as the starting right tackle, it seems as if right guard remains the only unclear position on the Jets’ offensive line. As expected, the newly-acquired James Carpenter will start at left guard between veterans D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold to solidify the left side of the line. This leaves a competition at the right guard position between the likes of; Willie Colon, Oday Aboushi, Dakota Dozier, and rookie Jarvis Harrison.
The indication is that former 2013 third-round pick Brian Winters will back up Carpenter at left guard, making him out of the competition. Winters was drafted to replace the incumbent Vlad Ducasse, but he struggled mightily in his first season as well as last year before tearing his ACL in the Week 6 matchup vs. the Denver Broncos. A move to the right side might do him even worse, so a reduced role as a backup makes the most sense in terms of keeping his career in check.
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Wesley Johnson is another guard on the roster, though he may be just a camp casualty when cuts have to be made. Gang Green pulled Johnson off of Pittsburgh’s practice squad when Winters went down, but he failed to see a snap in the final 10 games. If anything, he can make a push for the backup left guard spot. Winters is by no means a sure bet to make the team, so a guy breathing down his neck would only make him perform better when training camp hits.
With the other guards on the roster rounding out in that fashion, the 4-man race for the starting gig at right guard should be fun to watch throughout the summer. New York is young and most importantly deep at the position in order to cope with any devastating injuries similar to the ones they suffered in 2014. However, regardless of the youth, this competition runs through the experienced Colon. If you want to start at right guard for the Jets, you have to beat him out.
Nov 17, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills middle linebackerKiko Alonso
(50) lines up against New York Jets guard Willie Colon (66) and tackleAustin Howard
(77) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 37-14. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Colon is still the most experienced guard on the roster and that is what gives him the advantage in this competition. With nine seasons and a Super Bowl ring under his belt, he has obviously accomplished more than most linemen in the league. Although, his 2014 campaign was so poor that it is hard to imagine why the Jets brought him back. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Colon ranked 38th out of 44 guards who received 75% of snaps last season receiving a -16.3 for both run blocking as well as his overall grade. Colon was also the most penalized guard in the league with 14 penalties (2 were declined).
If he wants to keep his starting job, he must show coach Bowles he can be disciplined on and off the field. So far, that has not been the case. In an interview earlier this month, Colon came out and said quarterback Geno Smith was not ready to start for Gang Green in 2013. The last thing the Jets need is more turmoil in their locker room surrounding the quarterback position. We all know how that unfolded in 2012. If Colon fails to impress during training camp and the preseason, it may cost him a roster spot and make Aboushi the next man up on New York’s offensive line.
Aboushi is coming off of a decent season according to ProFootballFocus.com in which he ranked 35th out of 55 guards who received at least 60% of snaps. Opposite of Colon, the former Virginia Cavalier is a solid run blocker, yet he struggles to keep his quarterback off the turf. He allowed 2 sacks last season to go along with 5 QB hits, and 16 hurries. With a shaky quarterback situation to say the least, the Jets offensive line needs to do their job and block to keep whoever starts in 2015 composed. The worst thing that could happen in a game is to have your quarterback rattled right off the bat. Unfortunately, there is now a good chance of that happening when you play in the AFC East with loaded defensive lines.
Jul 31, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Oday Aboushi (75) blocks linebackerTroy Davis
(58) during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
A positive to take away from Aboushi’s game is that he keeps his numbers in the penalty department low. In 2014, he only committed one penalty compared to Colon’s staggering 14. New offensive coordinator Chan Gailey runs a tight ship, meaning you’re on a short leash when it comes to penalties on the offensive line. Not to mention, they have proven to be absolute drive killers for New York, so having Aboushi as a starter this season would do the Jets wonders from a disciplinary standpoint. If he can improve on his pass blocking technique and footwork to keep defensive linemen out of the backfield, Aboushi would give himself an even better chance to grab the final spot on the offensive line. The 2013 fifth-rounder has taken huge strides in his first two seasons, and it may result in a starting job in 2015.
Dozier and Harrison are pretty much the two dark horses for the starting right guard spot, but they should both make the roster. “Bull Dozier” is a very versatile lineman who was drafted as a tackle in 2014 but now seems to be zoning on playing guard in the NFL. He played left tackle at Furman, so he didn’t get any snaps last season due to the tough transition into the NFL. Imagine playing in the SoCon in college, then blocking Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson in practice months later. Dozier had a lot of work to do in 2014, but now he is ready for an increased role in 2015 as most likely a backup guard and tackle.
Harrison on the other hand is a pure guard that played for Texas A&M in the grueling SEC. He started every game in 2012, 2013 and he would have in 2014 if health wasn’t a concern. He began the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery that kept him out of the first two games. According to NFL.com, many scouts looked at him as a 3rd-round talent that has Pro Bowl potential further down the road because he excels in both run and pass blocking. The one issue they said he has is his power and that is due to his questionable motor. Harrison at times becomes lazy on the field and finesses on a lot of plays opposed to finishing his blocks. If Colon runs out of gas and Aboushi cannot pan out, Dozier and Harrison are two players deep within the Jets roster to be optimistic about moving forward.