Dave DeGuglielmo made it clear that if it were up to him, there would be no rotation at left guard on the New York Jets’ offensive line.
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It would be Matt Slauson, not Vladimir Ducasse.
All the time.
”That’s a directive from high above me,” the offensive line coach said Thursday. ”You’d have to ask somebody higher than me.”
Coach Rex Ryan says he’s responsible for that decision, and wants to make sure Ducasse gets snaps so he can continue to develop in his third season. DeGuglielmo, however, isn’t so high on the second-round round pick out of UMass.
”He’s playing well enough to be an every third series guy, maybe,” DeGuglielmo said.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Ducasse, who has twice been beaten out for the starting job — once in 2010 and again this past summer — by Slauson.
”Slauson is a big, tough, smart, strong kid,” DeGuglielmo said of the 2009 sixth-round pick out of Nebraska. ”That’s what he is. There are too few of those guys in the world.”
But, Ducasse is still getting a handful of snaps per game – and that hasn’t sit well with Slauson or DeGuglielmo. Slauson begrudgingly took a pay cut before this season and is a free agent after this year, while Ducasse is a slowly developing player whose performance reflects on general manager Mike Tannenbaum as a poor draft pick.
”What’s best is for me to do what I’m told to do,” DeGuglielmo said. ”That’s what’s best.”
DeGuglielmo had a rather testy 15-minute sit-down with reporters Thursday, his first group session since training camp. He opened with an angry statement stemming from an email sent by a reporter to the NFL offices that the coach hadn’t met with the media during the bye week, the league minimum requirement.
DeGuglielmo said he was available. But the facility was closed to media and Superstorm Sandy hit the area.
”I made a commitment to speak to you people on the bye week, OK?” he said, holding a copy of the reporter’s email. ”I was sitting here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, OK? If anybody needed to speak with me, I was here.
”It’s not my job to find you.”
The coach remained in a foul mood the rest of the way, objecting to one reporter’s suggestion that he had some ”hostility.”
”I have no hostility,” said DeGuglielmo, who was offered last offseason to replace Bill Callahan. ”I’m trying to get third down, goal-line and short yardage done. You’ve got a job to do, and I’ve got a job to do.”
The offensive line has taken its share of criticism this season, for not protecting quarterback Mark Sanchez consistently and not opening enough holes for the running game. DeGuglielmo, however, has been satisfied with his line’s performance.
”Everyone’s going to look at the film and evaluate it as they wish,” he said. ”I know I get comments from my boss, his boss and even his boss, and the owner, and they don’t seem to be dissatisfied. You guys see what you want to see and write what you want to write. That’s how it goes. That’s the business we’re in.”
DeGuglielmo added that when the running game is off, the offensive line always gets the blame, as it does when the quarterback is sacked.
”It’s part of the business and they have to understand that from the time they’re 5 years old playing in this game, they know that everything that goes on is going to fall on their shoulders,” DeGuglielmo said. ”Period.”
DeGuglielmo also was critical of websites that rank offensive linemen using specialized rating systems.
”What guy’s sitting on a computer rating Richie Incognito versus Matt Slauson versus Chris Snee,” DeGuglielmo asked. ”I mean, what is that? All of the sudden we’re `Moneyball’ with offensive lineman. I don’t understand that. I don’t get it. The world I live in isn’t a fantasy world. Those are big boys in there putting their heads into another human being 75 times a game. That’s what it is.
”If it doesn’t work out right, they still put their head in there.”
DeGuglielmo first spoke to the media in May, and strongly supported embattled right tackle Wayne Hunter, saying he would be the starter ”until they ship him out of this building or until they shoot me dead in my office.” The Jets traded Hunter three months later to St. Louis for tackle Jason Smith.
The coach, who said he had no input on the deal, again defended his players and the job he has done with them.
”If you think this line stinks and I’m a terrible coach, so be it,” he said. ”I disagree and I think my bosses would say the same thing.
”That’s up to you guys.”
NOTES: Ryan emphatically disagreed with some Jets fans who think it might make more sense to lose the rest of the way and get a better draft pick in the offseason. ”I want to apologize to those fans right now because there’s no way we’re tanking anything,” he said. ”There’s nobody in this organization that feels that way. We’re going to go out and we’re going to compete to win every single game, and that’s just the way it is.”