BGA is back…and this time it’s preseasonal (again)!
Coming up, part two your breakdown of last night’s 13-10 win over the Colts with detailed analysis of the offensive line and how the tight ends fared in the running game.
Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle. It's good to be back!
The results weren't great last night from the offensive line, but overall there were some encouraging signs. The line seems more in sync than it usually would at this early stage of preseason and the starting unit seems pretty solid.
It would be major for this team to get competent play from the left guard position after the struggles of last season, which dragged the performance of the line as a unit down most of the year. In that regard, it was encouraging to see that Brian Winters looks a lot more comfortable this year and he is hopefully going to be much more consistent. He didn't get off to a good start, reacting late to a blitz up the middle leading to pressure on Geno Smith, but he settled down after that point and had a couple of positive run blocks including a good down block to set the edge for Chris Johnson's touchdown. He did allow a tackler to elude him at the second level and blow up a run on one play, but that was his only other notable mistake. It was good to see him in pass protection giving D'Brickashaw Ferguson some help as the spare man. Any signs that the linemen are working well together are positive.
The one new addition to the line, Breno Giacomini, actually had some rough moments in pass protection. He was beaten outside a couple of times, and stumbled over on one play so Willie Colon had to come across and rescue him (another good sign of the players working together). When beaten he did do a good job of preventing the pass rusher from getting a clean hit on the quarterback and giving him room to step up. I'm less concerned with Giacomini's pass blocking, where he's proven in the past he can hold his own against good players and more worried about how he fares as a run blocker in the Jets' different system. The good news here is that he looked pretty good, getting excellent low leverage to drive his man back on one play and going after his man on the edge with an aggressive kick-out block. There was one play where his man got outside leverage to make a stop and another where he got stood up, but on the whole he looks like he'll fit in well.
By now, we know what to expect from Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Mangold looked in control as always, with an effective double team block with Colon and a good block at the point of attack highlighting a basically fault-free display. Ferguson did give up a couple of pressures, but on each occasion it was because Michael Vick held onto the ball for some time and there was never any danger of him being sacked. Ferguson also had a couple of effective run blocks.
Finally, it was an entertaining performance from Colon, even if most of that was due to his post-play extra-curriculars. He missed a block at the second level early on, leading to a run stuff and had one ineffective pull block where he got in the runner's way, but he was good in pass protection and did have one good interior kick-out block in the running game.
In order to illustrate where the running game might not quite be in sync yet, but could be close to getting it down, I wanted to look back in detail at this one play where Chris Johnson was stuffed for a short gain.
Immediately at the snap you can see the line moving in unison. That's a tell tale sign that this is going to be a zone blocking play, which Johnson will be stretching to the outside looking for a cutback lane. This should be a play that Giacomini would be more than comfortable with having come from Seattle.
As everyone moves to the right, the first thing that happens is that Jeff Cumberland and Eric Decker both block down on their men to seal them to the inside. You can see that most of the players are trying to get outside as fast as they can, apart from Ferguson and Mangold who are moving in that direction, but riding their man laterally to prevent them from getting upfield giving room for the other linemen to get out in front of the runner.
Here's where the play starts to break down a little. While Cumberland and Decker have successfully sealed their man to the inside, Decker's block was not clean and his man is able to disrupt Colon's route to the outside. Also, Winters gets himself a little big snagged up on Mangold's man and falls a step behind.
Sure enough, Winters is now chasing his man and Colon has got caught up completely on Decker's man.
Here you get a good sense of Johnson waiting for the hole to develop in front of him and you can see that it probably isn't going to. Giacomini sizes up his man who he's going to try to kick to the outside, but that running lane isn't going to be open behind him because Winters isn't in a position to drive his man out of the play and Colon hasn't been able to get out in front to he can seal the same player back to the inside either.
Both Giacomini and Jace Amaro engage their men and look to keep them sealed to the outside, which would have opened up a lane, but for the fact that Jerrell Freeman is in the hole with Winters having been unable to stay with him.
Amaro and Giacomini complete their blocks well, but Johnson has a man right in front of him and even if he beats that man, there really isn't any room to get upfield. By now, Mangold's blocker has managed to shed him, securing the backside.
Even so, you can see how close Johnson was to cutting that back, where there was a potential cutback lane and a lot of green grass out in front of him.
In a play like this where you block in unison, it only takes one misstep to potentially prevent the play from working, but as you can see most of the players here executed their part of the play well. If Winters could have got out a step quicker or Decker's block was cleaner so that Colon wasn't held up, that had a chance of creating a seam to the second level. If they can get this down, it'll be a staple of the running game all season.
With Brent Qvale (head) and Marcus Zusevics (knee) out injured and new signing Bruce Campbell presumably still getting to grips with the basics of the playbook, Oday Aboushi was forced to play as the right tackle for the second and third units. It's a shame we didn't get to see him get much work at guard with the improvements he's made in that area since changing positions, but I'd expect he'll get plenty of opportunities over the next few weeks. He did have a brief cameo at guard after Colon lost his helmet, but was at tackle the rest of the time and the fact he performed competently there strengthens his value as a possible 6th lineman active on gamedays.
Aboushi was beaten once or twice in pass protection, but not badly, and had some solid blocks in the running game. Much like Winters, he's not just more consistent than last year but also making more positive contributions. He did have one missed block in the running game, causing a run to be stuffed though.
The other backup tackle, Ben Ijalana had a rocky start. He gave up a pressure on a play where he didn't engage properly with the pass rusher allowing him to get off the block too easily and then got burned outside for a sack. He looked overmatched on those two plays. After that, he really seemed to settle down though. In the running game, he had a great driving block on the long Alex Green run, driving his man 8-10 yards downfield on the move.
Caleb Schlauderaff's move back to right guard would seem to indicate that he's definitely behind Dalton Freeman for the backup center role. If one of the tackles returns next week, they'll probably kick Aboushi back inside and bump Schlauderaff back to the third unit. Schlauderaff struggled, including on one play where Matt Simms got nailed because he double teamed rather than picking up a blitzer. He was also bullrushed into the quarterback and had a couple of negatives in the running game. For his own part, Freeman was okay, but he did get stood up once and he had a horrible snap over the quarterback's head.
Rookie Dakota Dozier had positives and negatives, but didn't fare too badly for a first performance. I'd put him ahead of Winters and Aboushi at the same stage. He had a well executed seal block and a good interior kick-out block. He did get in the runner's way on one play and failed to sustain his block on another, but wasn't too bad on balance. In pass protection, he did get badly beaten once, leading to a sack as the quarterback stepped up to avoid his man.
Finally, Patrick Ford - listed as the team's third string left tackle on the official website - has been playing guard in camp, so it wasn't a surprise to see him line up there. He had a good driving block on an early short yardage conversion but then was called for a hold as Simms scrambled, lost leverage on a run that was stuffed and had another missed block.
As promised, I want to close by re-visiting the tight ends to see how they fared in the running game. As we saw above, Cumberland and Amaro made good blocks on an ultimately unsuccessful play there. Cumberland had another good block down on a defensive tackle early on, but later in the game he got stood up twice, with one of those occasions causing him to get in the way of a pulling guard. Starting well as a blocker and then having lapses later on is something that Cumberland seems to suffer with at times, almost as if he concentrates hard on it early on in games, but then loses focus.
Amaro had one missed block from the slot, but did make another good seal block. He strikes me as a guy who is capable of making good blocks but might have lapses at times. His most egregious blocking mistake actually came on special teams where he did a poor job of slowing the outside man on the winning field goal attempt, which was nearly blocked. That seemed like laziness or lack of focus rather than a technical error, so I'm encouraged by what we saw from him so far when he did put it all together.