New York Jets: The Best Rushing Offensive Line is the only site I've seen that actually measures how well a line does with blocking by measuring how well a player does close to the line of scrimmage (a measure of the line) versus how well a player does father away from the line of scrimmage (a measure to the talent of the player). I still don't 100% trust them, but I believe their stats more than a lot of people's "eye".

As of this exact moment (which does not include week four) the New York Jets have the third best rushing offensive line. Although this may change because they just had two running backs go over 100 yards in week four, I believe the Jets have the best rushing offensive line in the NFL.

When scientist do experiments (or really anyone) in order to measure a specific variable, they have to keep every other variable constant to test the specific variable. The New York Jets give us as close to a real life experiment as we possibly can get. While the line for the Jets has not been the same exact line over the past few years (most notably the departure of Alan Faneca this year) for the most part- this line and scheme (anchored by D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold) have stayed constant. The variable that have changed are the running backs the Jets have acquired over the past few years- most notably Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson. The changing variable of the running backs helps us test how good that constant offensive line really is.

Seeing Thomas Jones play in Chicago for three years, I can say with confidence, that even in his "old" age, he still looked good. I've always liked Jones and he had a career 4.11 YPC during his stint in Chi-Town. But in Thomas Jones' last two season in New York he had a YPC of 4.5 and 4.2 respectively.

I will admit that during Thomas Jones' first season New York he had AN AWFUL offensive line which showed in Jones YPC (3.6, his lowest since 2001) and in FO stats toward the Jets line (ranked 23rd among the 32 teams). This was largely accredited toward the poor play of 4th overall pick Ferguson. In fact, in 2007 FO ranked the Jets left tackle position's play 32nd among 32 teams. (Now considering I don't really watch Jets games I'm just making a strong educated guess that D'Brickasahw played at least 95% for the team at the left tackle position in 2007).

However, it was the right side of the line that dramatically improved the running back play in later years. In 2008, the left tackle position still was ranked last among all left tackles, but the center (Mangold) was 3rd at run blocking and the right guard and tackle were the very best at their position- one of whom I just found out while doing research for this post is an Illinois alum: Brandon Moore.

This improved line showed up in Thomas' Jones stats. In 2008, Jones had a 4.5 YPC- the best average he's had while getting at least 200 carries. In 2008, Thomas Jones also has the most TDs he had ever had in his career jumping from a career high 9 in 2005 to getting 13 in '08. This earned Jones his lone pro bowl appearance.

In 2009, Ferguson became mediocre (17th overall) as opposed to the worst guy ever while their center dropped to above average (12th overall) and their right tackle slot stayed the very best. But despite the "crappier" play of the Jets line, Thomas Jones had a career season getting a career high in touchdowns (14), yards (1402), and carries (331). All with a damn fine 4.2 YPC.

Thomas Jones' two best seasons was when he was 29 and 30 years old and for the Jets. In fact, most running backs who reach this age start to show signs of their decline. Case in point: LaDainian Tomlinson.

LT is one of the greatest running backs that has ever played the game of football. LT is 8th all time in rushing yards, 2nd all time in rushing TDs, 3rd all time in rushing/receiving yards, and 8th all time in rushing yards per game- just to name a few stats. LT could run the ball, catch the ball, and even pass the ball. But in his last two years in San Diego, when he was 29 and 30 years old, he looked like he was one bad hit away from retirement.

Between 2001 and 2007, Tomlinson has a YPC over 4.0 five times and a YPC over 5.0 twice and a YPC under 3.90 once. Between 2005-2007, LT had a 4.3, 5.2, and 4.7 yards per carry respectively. And then he looked like age hit him.

In 2008, Tomlinson had almost a yard per carry drop off (4.7 to 3.8) and he took an even bigger hit last year with a career low 3.3 YPC. During the 2009 off season, TBO and I called LT "done" and last year he did nothing bur prove us right.

But then he came to the fountain of youth that is the Jets rushing offensive line.

In four games, Tomlinson has a 6.09 YPC with 3 rushing touchdowns.

To further help prove my point, in 17 career games with 138 carries, former Iowa running back Shonn Greene has a career 4.7 YPC. And that doesn't include his 22 carries for 117 yards (a 5.3 YPC) that he had in Week Four.

In Leon Washington's four years on the Jets he never had a YPC under 4.3 and has 13 rushing TDs in 13 starts for the Jets.

The Jets' ability to make old running backs look like they're in the prime of their careers and to continue to make every running back that plays behind them have spectacular numbers makes the Jets have the best rushing offensive line in football right now.


Cubsfan4evr said...

This was a great article highlighting something that doesn't get enough attention. A great rushing offensive line opens things up for the running game and a bad offensive line like the Bears can't open up any holes for the RB.