Oday Aboushi took over for Brian Winters after the starting left guard tore his ACL. He started the final ten games of the season for the Jets. The results were a mixed bag. There were good and bad things to take away.
We will start with the good. First, Aboushi showed a lot of improvement from year one to year two. His first year he looked totally lost in preseason. In year two he didn't. That is no small feat. Improvement eludes many prospects. It did with Winters. Aboushi in particular was a solid run blocker. He looked athletic enough to pull effectively and could get a push when he used proper technique. He was definitely an upgrade on Winters when he entered the lineup.
Aboushi had real issues in pass protection, though. Pro Football Focus says he was responsible for 23 pressures. That rated 32nd in the league. Remember, there are 64 starting guards. Also remember that Aboushi only started ten games. Willie Colon allowed 24 pressures, and he started all 16 games. Aboushi's 23 pressures came on just 376 pass blocking snaps. That 6.1% rate in bottom of the league stuff.
It also seemed from reviewing the games that the Jets made a concerted effort to protect Aboushi by having Nick Mangold offer extensive help on passing plays. Things could have gotten really ugly without Mangold there. Oddly, I will note that Aboushi played a strong game in pass protection without Mangold in Miami.
There is a point where a guard's pass protection makes him a net negative player no matter how good of a run blocker he is. Aboushi might be at that point. It wasn't just that he had big problems one on one. It seemed to me like the Jets had to use resources to keep things from really falling apart. Pressure up the middle is more difficult to combat off the edges because it prevents the quarterback from stepping up in the pocket. It requires the quarterback to move laterally to escape, moving the throwing platform and reducing the area on the field where a quarterback can physically throw the football. This would be one thing with a quarterback adept on the run like Aaron Rodgers. With one allergic to pressure like Geno Smith, it is an enormous issue.
I think to consider Aboushi's future, we have to look at the situation. On certain teams, it might be worth rolling with Aboushi. He's affordable, and it is definitely possible he will improve from year two to three just as he did from year one to two. It is no guarantee, but on a team with an established quarterback who knows how to slide and set protections, I could see continuing with Aboushi.
I don't think Aboushi should be handed the starting job in 2015 for the Jets. The Jets are likely either going to have Geno Smith or a rookie. Either way, the quarterback is probably not going to be experienced enough to deal with the kind of pressure starting Aboushi would risk. The Jets need to focus on building a fortress around their quarterback. Over the last few weeks, I have discussed a number of different free agent scenarios, but my first priority on offense l if I was Mike Maccagnan would be to build the offensive line into a massive strength to help prop up my quarterback. It would be cool to have a cheap homegrown starter at guard, but the priority needs to be helping the quarterback.
Aboushi certainly should be on the roster. I have nothing against giving him a chance to win the starting job even if the Jets sign a big free agent or invest in a guard early in the Draft. I think they need to make Aboushi prove that he has improved into a plus pass blocker, though. I don't think they can just make him a starter or beat out token competition like Willie Colon. In the worst case, you end up with a backup you know at least has some skills.