Vladimir Ducasse: Stay or Go?

Bob Levey

There were many things about the 2012 Jets that did not make much sense. One of them was Vladimir Ducasse getting a portion of the playing time at left guard. On the offensive line having continuity is important. So many quick decisions must be made about whom to block that familiarity can make or break plays. If you don't know who the guy next to you is going to get, things will be ruined. You should not shuffle players in and out of the lineup.

It seemed like the Jets were either trying to show the world that he was not a bust since he was getting playing time, or they were trying to break him in for a starting role in 2013 by getting him a few snaps in 2012.

At the start of his career, Ducasse was a one man catastrophe on the offensive line. He didn't know where to be. He constantly got beaten off the line. He looked like he had never played football before (which wasn't far off from the truth considering how late in life he was when he took the game up). It was so bad that he didn't even end up competing in 2010 for the starting left guard job, even though the Jets cut Alan Faneca hours after Vlad was picked, presumably expecting Vlad to win the job. Over the past year, the Jets have given up hope on him ever being able to protect the edge as a tackle. Ducasse is now a guard.

Ducasse has gotten better than his early days, but better does not indicate he is any good. He really is not. It is easy to watch him on film and get tantalized. When he actually locks onto a defender, he has great power and can bend knees in the run game. When he gets on the move, he looks as nimble as any lineman you will ever see.

He is still a very bad pass blocker. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 9 sacks/hits/hurries in just 155 pass blocking plays. That puts him at the bottom of the league for guards. If you use their pass blocking efficiency stat which judges how many sacks/hits/hurries you allow on a per play basis, he would rank 60th if he had participate in 25% of the team's pass plays. Similarly, there are too many times he gets beaten really badly in the run game. From what I watched, he may have led the league in plays were he either got away with holding or gotten lucky because something happened elsewhere that prevented a play where he got soundly beaten from being blown up.

While we're here, I'm sure somebody is going to mention Bent's recent article at The Jets Blog that talked about how the offense did not get worse with Ducasse in there. It is an extremely insightful article. Bent is a great, great writer, maybe the best Jets writer on the internet. I'm not saying he is wrong. There might not have been a tangible dropoff in total offensive production when Ducasse played this year. That is talking about the entire offense, though. It doesn't necessarily mean Ducasse played well. What I am saying is if you expand Ducasse's snaps, his game has so many holes that they will show up and hurt the offense.

With both guards hitting free agency, Ducasse might actually slide into a starting role. This idea ranges anywhere from unappealing if he plays at left guard between D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold who can protect him to a degree to full scale disaster if he replaces Brandon Moore. Have Ducasse next to Austin Howard for a full year, and you've pretty much sunk the offense before anything has started.

As far as Ducasse goes, he's still playing out his rookie contract, and the Jets have already invested a lot in him so they might as well try and keep working with him. They are going to have a ton of projects anyway. In what figures to be a rebuilding year, they might as well trudge forward. Maybe the light will go on, but it sure hasn't in the first three years. He sure shouldn't be handed a starting job.

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