New York Jets tackle George Fant showed improvement in key areas of weakness throughout his second start at left tackle.
While George Fant should be sliding back to the right side this Sunday since Mekhi Becton is likely to make his return, Fant showed a lot of progress throughout his second start at left tackle in relief of Becton last week. Fant struggled in his first start on the left side against the Cardinals in Week 5, but against the Dolphins, Fant bounced back in a huge way, being credited with only two pressures allowed over 49 snaps in protection. His Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 81.0 was fifth-best among left tackles in Week 6.
Beyond the excellent production, what really made Fant’s performance a noteworthy one is the fact that he put it together largely through success in facets of the game where he has previously struggled this season. It was an extremely promising sign of growth for him on the path to establishing himself as the Jets’ long-term right tackle.
Let’s take a look back at Fant’s clean performance in pass protection against the Dolphins.
Fant’s strengths and weaknesses as a player tend to line up closely with his profile as an athlete.
A former college basketball player at Western Kentucky who reportedly ran the forty in a blazing 4.84 seconds at 296 pounds (Fant now weighs in at 322), Fant is extremely athletic. Heck, during his time in Seattle, the Seahawks sent Fant out to run a route 25 times and threw him two passes. From 2018-19, Fant lined up at tight end (as a sixth lineman) on 48.7% of his total offensive snaps. He even got nine slot snaps in 2018!
With his excellent quickness and foot speed, Fant does well against bendy, speedy rushers who look to win around the edge with their athleticism. Generally, we’re talking about stand-up outside linebackers here. On the contrary, Fant’s struggles throughout his career have usually come against strong, physical rushers who look to win with power or to the inside. Typically, these are defensive ends who line up with their hands in their dirt.
Fant’s primary matchup against Miami was Shaq Lawson, who logged 28 snaps in which he rushed from the right side of the defensive line (across from the left side of the offensive line). Lawson is a 6-foot-3, 267-pounder who has a game built around power and most often lines up as a 5-technique defensive end with his hands in the dirt – the exact type of rusher that Fant has trouble with.
Lawson (and other Miami rushers) tried feverishly to exploit Fant’s weaknesses using power rushes throughout the afternoon, but could not find any success.
On this 3rd & 8 play, Lawson battles Fant from a wide 5-tech alignment in a four-point stance. Fant takes an aggressive approach knowing that Lawson is going to pin his ears back and attack in an obvious passing situation. Lawson looks to set up outside and then hit Fant in the chest with a long-arm move using his inside arm. Fant punches first, landing his two-hand punch with force into the inside shoulder of Lawson. Despite taking the contact, Lawson still throws his arm out, leaving himself completely vulnerable. Fant slaps the arm down and pancakes Lawson. Beautiful rep.