|11-11-2008, 06:37 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Ormond Beach, Florida
OL pushing Jets foward- NY Times
Jets Say Rebuilt Line Is Pushing Them Forward
By GREG BISHOP
Published: November 10, 2008
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — If any one sequence defined the Jets’ early-season struggles, it was their series of failed runs from inside the 3-yard line against the Patriots in Week 2.
Three times Coach Eric Mangini called for running back Thomas Jones to follow his rebuilt offensive line into the end zone. Three times the Patriots turned back Jones.
“It was a low point, in that game and through the season,” right guard Brandon Moore said Monday. “It has definitely driven us.”
As the Jets prepare to face the Patriots again Thursday, with first place in the division at stake, the offensive line ranks among the most improved units on the team.
Just ask quarterback Brett Favre. He was not touched during the Jets’ 47-3 victory against the Rams on Sunday, the second-straight game the offensive line did not allow a sack.
“I felt worse before the game,” Favre said of his soreness.
Offensive linemen rank among the least glamorous players on the field, but the Jets’ line features its share of potential stars.
Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold were first-round draft picks in 2006. Two veteran free agent acquisitions, left guard Alan Faneca and right tackle Damien Woody, were also first-round selections.
Beyond their draft status, the Jets’ line also receives its share of compliments. After the Rams game, Favre said the line deserved several game balls. Jones called the group “the best line in football.”
By the end of that game, they had sprung Jones for 149 yards — a 5.7 average — and 3 touchdowns. That moved Jones atop the A.F.C. rushing leaders with 750 yards this season.
“The front office has done a very good job of accruing talent,” the backup lineman Rob Turner said. “The O-line personally has done a good job of finding the way to get in the groove together.”
After struggling to effectively run the football and protect Favre at different points this season, this is the line the Jets had hoped to put together when they opened the checkbook last spring.
The Jets gave Faneca the largest free-agent contract in franchise history, and signed Woody to a five-year deal. The final tally? Some $32 million, guaranteed.
Even in training camp, receiver Jerricho Cotchery watched the line, and he saw the Jets’ weakness from last season transforming into a team strength.
“Once we got those guys in, from the first day we stepped on the field, I knew we were going to have something good with the offensive line,” Cotchery said.
Cotchery added that the line was among the most interesting units on the team. There is a mix of veterans and youth, different personalities, vocal types and silent types.
The key, according to several linemen, was building chemistry. Unlike players at the skill positions, linemen literally move as one, which is why building continuity on the line is important to any football team. After adding Favre, two offensive line starters and fullback Tony Richardson, the Jets knew it would take time for that to build.
The linemen helped speed the process by meeting for — what else? — chemistry-building meals during training camp.
“That’s what offensive linemen do most of the time,” Woody said. “Go out to eat.”
Those dividends were evident against the Rams. Like in the first quarter, when the Jets’ offense marched down field in eight plays on their opening drive. Jones gained 53 yards on five attempts during the drive.
And the payoffs were evident again in the fourth quarter, when on Jones’s third touchdown run he was pushed into the end zone by Richardson and Mangold. “Demoralizing” is what Jones called that kind of run, at least for a defense.
All the progress makes the sequence against the Patriots in September seem as if it came a lifetime ago.
“It was frustrating at the time,” Woody said. “We’re so far removed from that scenario. We’re a different team from that point.”
Coach Eric Mangini named his players of the week on Monday. They were: tight end Dustin Keller on offense, linebacker Eric Barton on defense and place-kicker Jay Feely, who tied a franchise record with a 55-yard field goal, for special teams.
Our Time has come! GO JETS!
|11-11-2008, 08:26 AM||#2|
Join Date: May 2008
I was somewhat skeptical of keeping Moore and signing Woody, but you have to give Mike credit - he has put alot of effort into upgrading the OL, and it has paid off.
One of the worst, perhaps the very worst, things about the Hermtite Badway era was the way they let the OL decline. Now the Jets are back to having one of the better OL's in the league, and that is an awesome thing. Along with finally getting rid of Chad, I can look at the OL and be very pleased with the group running this team now. It's much more than the owner deserves, but I'll take it.