Welcome to the Friday Spotlight. Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is center Nick Mangold. Mangold is the only offensive lineman we have spotlighted this year. It is a bit difficult to spotlight an offensive lineman. They don't generate much in the way of statistics. Unless they're giving up crucial sacks it's sometimes difficult to determine watching the game on television just how well or poorly they are playing. Absent a situation where they're getting blown up in the pass rush every play it is particularly difficult to pinpoint games where the center makes the difference between winning and losing. For all of these reasons offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of the NFL. They are often talked about as a unit whose work in the trenches is vital, yet rarely put in the spotlight for anything other than failure. With this whole season a failure it is time to give an offensive lineman the spotlight, and no Jets lineman is more deserving than Nick Mangold.
Nick Mangold, a 6' 3", 305 pound, 30 year old center out of Ohio State University, was drafted by the Jets with the 29th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL draft. He was one of two offensive linemen chosen in the first round by the Jets that year, the other being D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The two quickly established themselves as elite linemen, anchoring what would soon become perhaps the best offensive line in the NFL in 2009 and 2010.
Mangold continues a tradition of excellence at center for the New York Jets. In the 50+ year history of the Jets franchise, no position has been better represented than center. Starting with John Schmitt protecting Jets legend Joe Namath, and running through Joe Fields, Jim Sweeney, Kevin Mawae and now Nick Mangold, the center position has been manned at an elite level for a large majority of the team's history, and Mangold is up there with the best of them. With five (soon to be six, in all likelihood) Pro Bowl berths and two All Pro selections, Mangold has been at the top of his profession for nearly a decade. After a couple of down years in 2012 and 2013 (down years for Mangold, average or better for most centers), Mangold has resumed playing at an elite level in 2014. He has only one penalty incurred this year, has not been called for holding since 2012, rarely gives up pressure on the quarterback, and anchors a powerful run blocking line that has the Jets positioned as the second best running game in the NFL. Mangold is also an ultra-reliable ironman, having started all but two out of 142 games the Jets have played since he was drafted.
In addition to the awesomosity of his football skills, Nick Mangold is just an awesome guy. First to race onto the field in a meaningless game to protect his quarterback, Mangold always has his teammates' backs. He is also extremely intelligent, thoughtful and articulate, he has a great fun loving personality, and he has a legendary beard.