EA Q&A: Analyzing the Change at RT

During his morning news conference, Rex Ryan announced that Austin Howard will start at RT Sunday against the Carolina Panthers while Wayne Hunter will return to his reserve/jumbo tight end role.

Who will start at RT for the Jets when the regular season kicks off at MetLife Stadium on Sep. 9?  The Buffalo Bills will be in town and they'll line up Mario Williams across the way. 

DarenBronx, NY

Q: Good day Mr. Eric.  Do you think the Jets should keep Jeff Otah in their minds, so as to add depth to the O-line?  He is going to get healthy and they may need some experience and youth.

EA: The Jets had a solid week with Otah, so they know exactly where he is at both physically and mentally.  A return wouldn't be a complete stunner considering he spent some time with the club, but I don't think you make that move unless they're sure he can contribute immediately.  You said Otah is going to get healthy — when? 

DustinMilwaukee, WI

Q: If the Jets really believe in Austin Howard they should have him on the field the whole preseason — I'm talking all four quarters. He needs the experience.   Wayne was the worst RT in the league last year and he is clearly the same player this year, with his added injuries of course to top it off.

EA: Howard has a great opportunity in front of him Sunday night.  He was impressive against the Bengals, starting at RT and then playing the entire second and third stanzas at LT.  Last week, the Jets inserted Hunter (back) back into the lineup and we all saw that he struggled. 

Terry Bradway appeared on "Jets Talk LIVE" this week and the Senior Personnel Executive said that Howard was the "surprise of camp".  The Jets do like Howard, but Bradway told me he has to hone in on all the fine details.  Howard has intrigue and upside, so let's see how this unfolds. 

SeanToms River, NJ

Q: Why don't the jets try Vladimir Ducasse at right tackle?   Didn't he play tackle at UMASS?

EA: Ducasse did play tackle at UMASS, but he is best suited not to play there on the pro level.  He can have trouble in space and there are some edge guys in this league who can beat him with speed.  Ducasse, a powerful lineman who can get out and pull, is a better fit on the interior.  He also will benefit from a full offseason in the strength and conditioning program and staying at one position.

RichardPatchogue, NY

Q: When do you seeing Rex pulling Mark and playing Tim Tebow?

EA: Really? 

Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback.  Offensive specialist Tim Tebow is expected to get anywhere between two and 20 offensive snaps per game.   We won't know how and where he will be used each week.

If Sanchez struggles mightily, then maybe we can revisit this subject.  But we aren't anywhere close to that point no matter what some folks in the national media believe. 

Aaron SHuntsville, AL

Q: I unlike most Jet fans am not panicking.   It is the preseason for goodness sakes — these games don't mean anything.  They are glorified scrimmages essentially.  With that said, would I like to see the Jets score points and romp everyone right now?   Sure, but I would gladly lose every game in the preseason if it meant winning every game in the regular season.   I wonder how (different) the offense will be going into the Carolina game with a plan?

EA: Amen Aaron!  

The emphasis in the preseason is evaluating players.  You want to score points, but the goal is not to just have a series of one play, 80-yard drives.  The team looks at its weaknesses and tries to improve them, and they also see what they can throw out of the playbook.

Rest assured the Jets have packages and plays they feel real good about.  But they aren't going to display everything for the Bills, so B-Lo coaches can start working on their game plan. 

Everyone in Jets Nation wants to see some points this week.  It appears Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) will likely return to the lineup Sunday night, but Santonio Holmes (rib) is much more questionable and Chaz Schilens (high-ankle sprain) is extremely doubtful.

It will be interesting to see what kind of wrinkles the Jets throw out there in this third preseason week.  With that being said, I don't think Tony Sparano will get too cute and he shouldn't.  Have some success moving the ball, score a couple of touchdowns and stay healthy.

BobPhiladelphia, PAQ: Do we need a wide receiver?

EA: Not yet.  They need healthy receivers.  Mr. T. will take a long look at what's out there as cuts flow in the next couple of weeks, but I think the Jets are fine at WR if Tone and Jeremy Kerley are ready to roll in Week 1. 

If there was a concern about talent at wide receiver, the Jets would have made a move a long time ago.  Holmes got the lucrative contract, Stephen Hill is a high draft pick, Jeremy Kerley flashed as a rookie, Chaz Schilens was added in free agency, Patrick Turner has experience and Jordan White was a draft pick.

52-Year Jets FanFlorida

Q: John Conner is not a "very good" blocker.  There are 18 fullbacks who had better blocking stats last year.  He is a shadow of T-Rich.

EA: I respectfully disagree.  Fortunately I get an opportunity to watch these guys practice and play, and I've seen enough of Conner to feel comfortable with my statement.  Sometimes he has gone for the "kill shot" and gotten himself out of position. Conner, who also blocks on kick returns, has worked very hard on becoming a better receiver out of the backfield.  He is a hard-nosed blocker in the run game who is a willing — albeit not perfect — pass protector.

BobNorth Attleboro, MAQ: It's tough being a Jets fan up here in New England.   Do you think all the "sacks" you report our defense gets in practice is a bad sign?  I didn't see the defense put that much pressure on the Giants. The film doesn't lie and Hunter looked BAD.  By the way, the Patriots offensive line gave up a bunch of sacks to Philly on Monday night — however none were of Tom Brady.

EA: Hang in there Bob.  Sacks occur for a variety of reasons including poor line protection, failure of tight ends to chip, backs missing assignments or getting beat, receivers failing to get open, quarterbacks holding on to the ball too long…  Yes Hunter had a tough night for the Jets, but I didn't see the O-line get manhandled out there. 

On the other side of the ball, I have to disagree with you.  LaRon Landry's interception came because Eli Manning wanted no business (I can't say I blame him) staying in the pocket with Mike DeVito barreling in for a pop.  Manning finished 7 of 14 for 62 yards with one pick and posted a passer rating of 32.4.  Bart Scott got in a good shot on Manning on a third down play early in the second quarter.  I thought Manning was getting that ball out of his hand quickly because he knew he wasn't going to have much time.

And just like the offense, do you think Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine are going to expose a lot of their top defensive calls? 

CarsonRockland, NY

Q: What about Ricky Sapp? Early in the year there was talk about him having a breakout year after being a bust.   Any progress?

EA: Sapp had a great spring, but unfortunately he suffered a high ankle sprain in the Green & White Scrimmage.  He has yet to play in any games and you feel for the kid.

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