If you've been paying attention to the NFL headlines over the past two weeks -- the non-DeflateGate headlines, I mean -- you know the New York Giants and Denver Broncos lost their starting left tackles to significant injuries. The Broncos' Ryan Clady is done for the season with a torn ACL and Will Beatty could miss six months after surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Both injuries occurred in voluntary team workouts.
A good left tackle is like a life-insurance policy: It provides great comfort even though you may occasionally forget it's there. The Giants and Broncos -- and especially Eli Manning and Peyton Manning -- will greatly miss their blind-side protectors.
This is a roundabout way of complimenting D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who has been on the job every ... single ... day for the New York Jets since 2006. Not only has he played in every game for nine years (144 consecutive games), but he hasn't missed a single snap.
That last part bears repeating: He hasn't missed a single snap. It's a Ripken-esque streak, and that shouldn't be underplayed when evaluating Ferguson. Yes, he's three seasons removed from the last of his three Pro Bowl appearances, but the man always shows up for work. Ferguson is a rare constant for a franchise known for instability.
Has his play slipped over the years? Probably so. There's no objective measure for evaluating offensive linemen, so we have to rely on expert opinion (coaches, scouts, etc.) and advanced metrics. This is subjective, but he was rated as the 16th left tackle last season, according to the stats-based website Pro Football Focus. He allowed only one sack, per PFF, but he received a "negative" run-blocking grade. This supports what I've heard from coaches: Still a solid pass protector, but doesn't finish in the running game the way he used to.
This is an important season for Ferguson in terms of his long-term future with the Jets. His cap charge, $11.7 million this season, balloons to $14.1 million in 2016, the next-to-last year of his contract. The Jets will have cap issues next year, so it's hard to imagine them carrying a franchise-type number for a player who will be 32. They will have to make a decision on whether to cut bait or renegotiate, and a lot will depend on his 2015 performance.
But that's down-the-road talk. For now, just appreciate the stability. If they can accomplish the same thing at quarterback ...
We'll save that for another day.