The New York Jets' offensive line received an undeservedly harsh evaluation from the website Pro Football Focus, which released its annual offensive-line rankings on Wednesday. The Jets were No. 26, which is hard to believe when you consider they allowed the fewest sacks in the AFC.
In our end-of-the-season report card, I gave the Jets' O-line a B-minus, calling it a solid year but noting there were some signs of slippage from the three oldest starters, D'Brickashaw Ferguson (32), Breno Giacomini (30) and Nick Mangold (32).
Report cards and PFF rankings aside, the man whose opinion matters most is general manager Mike Maccagnan, and he doesn't see anything wrong with the line.
"Our offensive line is still a good offensive line, and we're going to try to keep it intact," he said last week in a teleconference Q&A with season-ticket holders.
Maccagnan explained that he hopes to integrate young players, prospects that can be developed into starters in the future. Based on his comments, it doesn't sound like picking a lineman on the first or second day of the draft will be a high priority.
All five starters are under contract for 2016, so there's no reason they shouldn't be able to keep the group together. The one potential obstacle is the financials. The Jets have a league-high $36 million committed to the 2016 cap for the offensive line, and that is way too much.
Maccagnan's comment could be a subtle message to Ferguson ($14.1 million) and Mangold ($8.6 million), both of whom are among the highest-paid players at their respective positions. In fact, Ferguson's cap charge is the highest among linemen. The Jets could approach one or both players about re-working their contracts. Assuming they do, the team could have the same starting five in 2016, including right guard Brian Winters, who replaced the injured and likely-to-retire Willie Colon at midseason.
Getting back to PFF, it gave the following assessment of the Jets' O-line:
Stud: By virtue of his teammates playing so poorly, the strong run blocking of James Carpenter made him an easy pick.
Dud: Poor in the run game and allowing too much pressure, Giacomini did not have a good year.
Summary: Once a dominating group, this was the year that things finally turned, and the Jets line morphed from productive to problem. Mangold and Ferguson just aren’t the players they once were, and there aren’t enough factors to overcome that. This line needs some good, young talent.