Wayne Hunter was far from a fan favorite during a brutal 2011 campaign. New York’s right tackle struggled mightily in his first full year as a starter in the Big Apple. The 30-year-old developed a reputation as a lackluster pass blocker with defensive ends feasting on his sluggish foot speed and poor technique. Vitriol rained down from fans as Hunter repeatedly surrendered sacks and allowed constant pressure on quarterback Mark Sanchez. Jets fans’ patience was running short, but the coaching staff reaffirmed its commitment to Hunter by proclaiming him the starting right tackle to begin the 2012 season.
Fans clamored for Gang Green to trade or release Hunter following a catastrophic season, but newly hired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is determined to make 2012 a bounce back year for the embattled offensive lineman. The Jets signed veteran lineman Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis to address depth issues along the offensive front and provide an insurance policy for Hunter. Entering training camp, the Green-and-White will look to establish a physical brand of football predicated on a powerful ground game.
Sparano is planning a return to glory for New York’s rushing game, which was ineffective and thereafter abandoned in lieu of former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s pass-happy offense a season ago. For the Jets to return to postseason contention they’ll need a resurgence from their ground game to refuel a left-for-dead offensive attack. Rex Ryan is establishing position battles this offseason to create healthy competition in practice and to ensure the Jets are pushing each other in preparation for opening day.
As Gang Green sets its sights on the 2012 regular season, Hunter will look to rebound from the hardships of last year under the tutelage of Sparano and new offensive line coach David DeGuglielmo. The Jets are hopeful that a new scheme and support from a revamped coaching staff will translate to success for Hunter this upcoming season.
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland
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