Our series grading each position group on the Jets in 2015 goes on. Today we address the offensive line. As a refresher, here is the John B Grading System.
A - An enormous success by any definition
B - Happy with the production
C - Not terribly thrilled; not terribly upset
D - A disappointment
F - A total catastrophe
2015 in review
The Jets entered 2015 dedicating more salary cap space than any other team to the offensive line. It was a unit with five veterans yet expectations were not sky high. This unit was not viewed as a major strength on the team.
The unit proved to not be a strength at all. The Jets struggled all season at the edges.
Making matters worse, Giacomini cost the Jets an average of 4.06 penalty yards per game, eleventh highest among tackles.
On the interior things were a bit better but still less than stellar. James Carpenter played consistently, proving to be a quality free agent addition in year one. Nick Mangold battled through injuries. Despite his Pro Bowl nod, it was not a typical Mangold year, but his presence seemed to really be felt when he missed time due to various injuries. Willie Colon did a surprisingly decent job and avoided penalties for the most part until suffering a season-ending injury. Brian Winters replaced him and was effective when on the move. He was less sturdy at the point of attack and was flagged six times, tied for eleventh most among guards, despite only starting ten games.
Looking to 2016
In an ideal world, the Jets will be able to bring in a new right side of the line. Cutting Giacomini will save over $4 million in cap space. It would be difficult to see even a scrap heap signing being an appreciable downgrade. Right guard could also use an upgrade. The Jets had a number of young players in an open camp competition in 2015 but none could stake a claim to the job. It could be another camp competition in 2016. Winters' play was not effective enough to give him a lock on a starting spot. Could Brent Qvale, Jarvis Harrison, or somebody else step up? It would help the team a lot.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson's contract status is also something to watch. His cap number for 2016 comes in around $14 million. That is too much for a player in decline. Cutting him saves around $9 million. I think the smart money is on him returning at a reduced rate. Left tackle is kind of like quarterback. The difference between passable and bottom of the barrel is enormous at the position. You can live with a passable left tackle. A bottom of the barrel left tackle can destroy your season. If the value lines up, the Jets could draft a tackle early with the idea of him starting at right tackle in 2016 and sliding over to replace Ferguson in a year or two.
The Jets seldom designed runs for Ryan Fitzpatrick. He still ended the season with the fifth most rushing attempts in the league at the quarterback position. That is how frequently his protection forced him to scramble. The primary back on the team is among the most effective in the league at fighting through contact yet the Jets had an average per carry barely above the league average. The line was a weakness.