Jets' rebuilt offensive line is finally beginning to gel
MARCUS HENRY Special to the AmNews | 10/27/2011, 11:30 a.m.
Here's a little-known fact about football: Games are won and lost up front. Having the flashy wide receiver, ultra-talented running back or Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback will sell tickets and get television ratings, but if you want wins, the offensive line has to be able to win its battles at the line of scrimmage.
The Jets found this out the hard way this season, as they've struggled to run the ball most of the season. It led to some internal controversy a couple of weeks ago when Santonio Holmes called out the Jets' offensive linemen.
That situation changed in Sunday's 27-21 home win against the Chargers. The offensive line blocked, Shonn Greene (112 yards) ran and the Jets won.
It's no coincidence. The Jets (4-3) controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish and will head into the bye week on a high note.
"I can't explain it more. They did a great job," Greene said of the offensive line. "They're the reason why we got all of our points. They protected well; they opened up holes. All I did was run through them."
It was Greene's first 100-yard game and only the second for the Jets. It makes you wonder why teams seem to play hardball when it comes time to pay good offensive linemen. The Jets had a well-publicized divorce with former guard Pete Kendall after the 2006 season because he wanted more money.
The Jets also bid adieu to left guard Alan Faneca after the 2009 season. Right tackle Damien Woody retired in the offseason. The departure of Faneca and Woody played a huge part in the Jets' struggles earlier this season, as Matt Slauson and Wayne Hunter took over the guard and tackle.
Add to that starting center Nick Mangold missing games because of an ankle injury, and it was a recipe for disaster. Holmes publicly taking shots at the guys up front didn't help matters either, but all seems to be forgiven now.
Said left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "As far as the ground and pound [goes] and airing it out, we accomplished some goals."