Expectations were high for the offensive line this off-season when the Jets made some serious investments, bringing in two former first-round draft picks and Super Bowl winning veterans, G Alan Faneca and RT Damien Woody, to complement G Brandon Moore and the team's other two first-rounders on the line, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold.
"A lot of things go into last year," said Moore. "I'm not going to go down the list, but all those things, they've been corrected this year and upgraded in certain positions, and that's the reason why maybe we're able to pull out games in the fourth quarter."
"It's always little by little," Mangold said on the jelling of the unit. "As you go longer, you get a better feeling for the guys you're around. So that's why lines that have been together for years typically do pretty well. I think you still work at it even when you've been together for a long while."
"It's been a couple of weeks ago now that I think we finally clicked it in and we're starting to do some things," said Faneca. "You know, it's an evolving process. There's no one point in a game. It may be one point for one phase of what we do, all of a sudden that kicked in. There are different points throughout training camp and the season where things like that kick in."
Now having the experience of an off-season's worth of practice along with eight games under their belts, Ferguson doesn't feel the unit has made more progress in run blocking vs. pass defense or vice versa.
"I'd just say overall we've made strides," he said.
"I think as more games go on throughout the season, you learn better what each individual does — chemistry. You just learn how to play with each other a little bit better."
Woody, who also feels they've improved in both areas, shares the opinion that familiarity is a key to success.
"I think we're starting to understand each other a lot better, our strengths and weaknesses," he said. "Our communication level has really been the biggest thing. We really communicate well and I think that's really the key to us getting better. As long as we communicate and understand what each other is doing, then I think we'll be on the same page and be able to do our jobs more effectively."
The offense received kudos for putting together some sustained drives in last week's win against the Buffalo Bills, especially their last, running 8:41 and ensuring a victory.
"That's the equivalence, to us, of a two-minute drive – having to come back and win," said Moore. "It's the same thing – being able to hold the ball and score points and put it out of reach a little bit more. You take as much pride in that as you would a two-minute comeback.
"That's something we work on all the time – the four-minute offense – and then turning into an 8½-minute offense there at the end and try to keep the ball away from them. Defense had been on the field a couple of series there in a row and we wanted to be able to milk the clock down and score a touchdown. We came up a little short of that, but yeah, that's something we work on all the time."
The Jets don't normally use a tackle to pull, but Woody did so several times last week. One of them in the third quarter came on Thomas Jones' touchdown run.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that," Woody said when asked if he drew on his experience with starting at other positions on the O-Line for his technique. "I've done it before — a lot actually. It's all about game plan. Whatever the coaches decide to do, I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do.
"So this past week against Buffalo we had some tackle pulls, which is kind of unique. You don't see it a lot in the league, but we decided to go ahead and do it this past weekend. It really paid dividends — scored a touchdown on one — so it was a very successful play."
Faneca put in his two cents during that late fourth-quarter drive, laying two blocks on the same player — No. 43, Bills safety Bryan Scott — on the same play.
"When I got out there on him I knew where I had gotten him at. He was a couple of yards past the ball," Faneca said. "I knew we were in position for a good play and then when he bounced it back out again I just tried to get another hit on him. He's a little guy so he was kind of running away from me, so I wasn't going to chase him down. But I got another little glancing blow on him and TJ ran 23 yards.
"That's a good little run — especially at that time of the game."
If the offensive line continues to improve each week, it would be a major factor in the Jets' team's hopes for the rest of the season.
"Now is that time of the year," said Faneca. "You know, it's November, it's time to make a run and this is the time. You set yourself up for now and you've got to make that run, you've got to make that push, so now is where we'll find out."