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Concern About Right Tackle: Offensive Lines Function as a Unit

I would like to elaborate a bit on a topic I talked about a little while back, my concern about the right tackle position. Not many people are talking about it, but it is one of my biggest concerns heading into the 2011 campaign.

It is easy to say that it is only one spot on the line, but offensive lines function working together. These units are only as strong as their weakest link. Think back to 2007. The Jets had what was widely considered a below average offensive line. The starting left tackle was D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The starting center was Nick Mangold. The starting right guard was Brandon Moore. Think about that for a second. 60% of what is now considered a huge strength was in place. All three of these guys are playing at a higher level, but part of that has been the improvement of the quality of players next to them.

Damien Woody was a road grater in the run game. He could consistently win one on ones. What happens if Vladimir Ducasse cannot do that on a consistent basis? Brandon Moore might have to help instead of hitting the second level or battling a different man. Nick Mangold might have to take Moore's man instead of heading out on a linebacker. A chain reaction permeates the entire blocking scheme. As complicated as football can be, the success of running plays usually come down to the ability to match each defensive hat with an offensive hat blocking.

There is also a certain amount of chemistry that comes into play up front. You can go through things in the class room. You can walk through them in practice. A game is a different situation. Being familiar with the guy next to you is important. You need to make split second decisions to know what that guy will do, who he will take, and who you need to pick up. That only comes over time.

I trust the front office to make good decisions. They can make a better guess about whether Vladimir Ducasse is ready than I can. I might make the same call in their spot. At the end of the day, though, they only think Ducasse is ready to step in. They do not know for sure. The position is a question mark, and that could have implications for the play of the entire line.