Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Mar 2008

FO on ESPN: Faneca Provides Upgrade to Jets' Offensive Line

This week's FO column on ESPN.com explains how Alan Faneca upgrades the Jets all across the line, not just at left guard.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 20 Mar 2008

24 comments, Last at 24 Mar 2008, 2:56pm by good grief!


by Joseph (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 1:37pm

Normally I wouldn't agree with the premise that upgrading one position actually upgrades 4. However, besides the stats listed, I remember hearing a TON about D'Brick & Mangold in their rookie years, and basically nothing (good) last year. Yes, this prob. is related to the difference in the team record, but the stats show that the two linemen did regress last year. I would say that Faneca upgrades 3 positions (LT, LG, C) and keeps the QB healthier. This is prob. one of those moves that influences stats (the QB's, WR's, & the RB's), the announcers rave about the "improvement" in those skill players, when the improvement is really in the O-line.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 1:45pm

correct me if im wrong...

-the player they signed as right tackle has played appx 1/2 a season at right tackle his entire career, and this pay is based almost entirely on his performance in those games

-Jets sucked last year. Patriots were amazing. even with tons of pats players jumping ship, it is extremely unlikely of the jets making the playoffs in the next year or two.

with that in mind...

-Faneca and Woody will decline right about the time that their young players hit their prime, meaning that all Faneca will be doing will be helping the jets be a better team and get crappier draft position for the next couple years without putting them over the hump and actually getting them to the playoffs

-Offensive line is the most important position for continuity in the game, and the jets decided to stick an aging veteran in between their 2 young studs rather than trying to pick up a 3rd one thru a draft (which would give them long term continuity), meaning that when Faneca starts to suck, and they bring a new guy in, the entire offensive line will suffer [read: right when they are ready for playoff contention]. Of course this is true for woody too.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 1:53pm

meaning that all Faneca will be doing will be helping the jets be a better team and get crappier draft position for the next couple years without putting them over the hump and actually getting them to the playoffs

If the goal is getting to the playoffs down the road, it's better to have a mediocre team and mediocre draft position than to have a bad team and a good draft position.

by Brandon (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 2:14pm

Re: 2

What do the Patriots have to do with the Jets making the playoffs? Nobody is saying that they will win the division. If my math is correct, teams not named the patriots that the Jets will have to play have a combined winning percentage of .375 in 2007 (and that includes only two teams with winning records, the Chargers and the Seahawks). Even with the Pats, that number jumps to a staggering .432. It is perfectly reasonable to say that the Jets could make the playoffs as a wildcard in 2008. They only have to play three teams with winning records for pete's sake.

I also take issue with your saying that all the signings will do is help them get crappier draft position. It's more important to draft wisely than draft early. Ask the Patriots, or the 1990's Bengals.

by TTP (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 2:36pm

STATS, Inc. has Faneca down for far more sacks than does FO:

2007: 6.25 sacks
2006: 5.75
2005: 4.25
2004: 6

Over this time period, these totals are among the worst of any starting guard in the NFL, especially considering how infrequently the Steelers throw compared to the average team. As a Steeler fan, I've been saying for years that Faneca was one of the most over rated players in the NFL. I was happy that they let him go and will gladly take the comp pick in return.

Note: I have no idea where the 1/4 or 3/4 of a sack comes from.

by sexlexia (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 3:29pm


I think Tanier is implying that Faneca and Woody will not only make a lot of players better, they will allow Mangold and Ferguson (Clemens, too, I guess) a much easier time of achieving their potential. The players weren't in a good environment last year to progress because they had to take on more than they could - and should have had to - handle. When/if Mangold and Ferguson reach that potential, thanks to the help of Faneca and Woody, they can assume the retiring offensive linemans' roles and help bring along their replacements.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 3:47pm


"If my math is correct, teams not named the patriots that the Jets will have to play have a combined winning percentage of .375 in 2007"

Too bad the Jets had a winning percentage of .250.

You can only take advantage of a weak schedule if your team doesn't suck. I think almost all of their FA pickups are past their prime players and won't do much to improve the Jets.

by Brandon (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 4:38pm

Re 8:

You missed the point of my post. I know that the Jets didn't do well last year, and I think it reasonable to say that the Jets might not suck this year. If you don't think so and believe the Jet's free agent signings won't have much effect, fine. But pointing out the obvious isn't really neccesary.

by dmb (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 7:05pm

6: I think you have it right on -- the thrust of the article is that Faneca and Woody could help the team for years beyond their direct service by helping Ferguson, Mangold, and Clemens all develop more successfully.

Also is this the first appearance by FO on the main "ticker" for stories on the ESPN website? I don't recall previous articles being so visible on the page. If it's a first, then congrats to Mr. Tanier!

by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 8:07pm

I have absolutely no problem buying the premise that upgrading one position improves four or five positions, for just about any position except kickers and punters. For line players this probably happens when you go from suck to average; for skill players it happens when you go from average to excellent, and for defensive players it probably works for both types of upgrades.

by John B (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 8:23pm

regarding #5:

Anybody know how Stats Inc determines "sacks allowed"? I imagine it's some intern. In fact, they have multiple job openings on their website for "data collection", which includes "football video analysis" duties. Pays a wopping $10 an hour.

by Tom (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 9:35pm

#2 I agree. The Pats are amazing, and since its about being number #1, this really isn't the right way to spend the big bucks. The Jets will give up big scores early, and then Vrabel & co will have their way, no matter who is there.
It sounds to me like they're doing everything they can to give their QB a chance. But whoever it is will not outplay Brady. Bad strategy.

by witless chum (not verified) :: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 6:59am

If only we had a TWIQ for the off season:

Rod Marinelli:

Marinelli acknowledged that the Lions will get offers for (Roy) Williams, but he doesn't plan to be swayed.

"When you are a beautiful girl, people will keep knocking on the door and asking for dates – but the old dad has to keep coming out and saying 'Nope.'"

by billvv (not verified) :: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 2:58pm

I guess the Pats fans are again making themselves heard. Must have gotten over the mauling Brady got and have gotten their mouth back up to speed. Always good to hear from you!

by TomHat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 3:22pm

3) wrong. Adding players that only help you in the short term do not turn a "bad team" into a "mediocre team" because the old players will have zero positive value to the team as of when it matters, meaning that all they will do is lower the overall quality of their team by making their draft position shittier.

4) Wrong. The Patriots have a lot to do with the jets making the playoffs. The Panthers/Colts are a guarunteed wildcard spot, and the Patriots are guarunteed to win their division. that leaves one playoff team left, and the jets sucked last year, and it wasnt because of their offense. 25th ranked defense.

6) Correct. However I am contending that they *draft* offensive linemen. Clearly leaving journeymen at LG and RT is worse than drafting these guys, but there is a significantly better alternative that would leave the jets with great line continuity. Also, if they were to sign them, they should have signed them to large short term deals, because the long term deals are effectively giving them dead money down the road rather than overpaying right now so they dont have dead money when their team doesnt suck. So yes, Woody and Faneca allow their youth to play better (well at least faneca, woody still seems like an idiotic signing), but there are so many alternatives that would have been much smarter.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 3:25pm

edit: in re 6 it not "Clearly leaving journeymen at LG and RT is worse than drafting these guys" it should have read "Clearly leaving journeymen at LG and RT is worse than signing these guys" and also, I didnt make it clear that I believe these particular contracts is even dumber than leaving journeymen at LG and RT. due to the dead money.

by Brandon (not verified) :: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 7:36pm


The Jets went 10-6 two years ago with almost the exact same DVOA on defense and a better offense. A 10-6 team can make the playoffs as a wildcard in the AFC. Really, the Jets were equally below average in both offense and defense last year, so an improvement on either side of the ball would probably make them competitive (assuming the other side stays the same or improves as well).

I think the Jets are perfectly capable of improving to the point of challenging for a wildcard spot in the playoffs with the changes they've made this offseason.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/22/2008 - 6:48pm

17: certainly possible, but there are 3 possible spots they can get, one is guarunteed to the patriots, one is guarunteed to the panthers/Colts, and then the third one is up for grabs. Sure, these 2 pickups raised their chance to make the playoffs above 0%, but I wouldnt be betting on them. maybe if all their young guys have breakout seasons, or they get massive amounts of injury and fumble luck. I dont know, im just not seeing it under normal circumstances.

by Bill Tobak (not verified) :: Sat, 03/22/2008 - 6:53pm

"The Panthers/Colts are a guarunteed wildcard spot, and the Patriots are guarunteed to win their division"

Dude, the Panthers play in the NFC. I guaruntee it.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 03/22/2008 - 10:39pm

PFT has year-by-year base salaries for both players recorded, and it is clear that a substantial proportion of the guaranteed money for both players is in the form of guaranteed base salaries, for (presumably) the first two seasons of each man's contract. Moreover, the base salaries for both are tiny in year one but peak in year two. To me, this suggests that a further big chunk of the guaranteed money is a year one roster bonus or similar, which means that the amount of pro-rated signing bonus is probably quite small. Both players are almost certainly affordably cuttable after year two.

by billvv (not verified) :: Sun, 03/23/2008 - 9:35am

Tomhat, nobody is asking you to bet on them. The Jets are trying to build a team that can compete, fixing the problems they faced last year. What more can you ask of them? You're living in the past while the Jets are building for the future. Jets fans appreciate that. Too bad you can't!

by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 03/23/2008 - 9:39am

If the Jets had ponied up for Pete Kendall, they'd have had the same result for far less money, and without last season's debacle.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/24/2008 - 8:53am

19: lol, tru dat, i get panthers and jaguars mixed up. same damn animal.

20: Ill believe you on that, yet if that is the case I dont know why they didnt just throw 1 or 2 more million into the first 2 years and get rid of the dead money altogether. I guess the theory is that its a low risk just in case they dont suck 2 years down the road. Well if thats the case then it seems like a less bad move.

21: Thanks for enligtening me that no one is asking me to bet on them. Really, I was strongly worried about my financial situation due to the belief that I was being forced to bet on the Jets, and that is why I made the statement about not betting on them. You just figured out my motives to a T didnt you?

by good grief! (not verified) :: Mon, 03/24/2008 - 2:56pm

does anyone really believe that Pete Kendall & Alan Faneca are on the same level here ?