The New York Jets’ best player has revealed himself
Throughout a rocky 4-11 season that has featured a strict rotation of one victory every four weeks, the New York Jets have only had a handful of players perform at a high level on a fairly consistent basis.
Of those select few, one player has emerged from the pack and clearly established himself as the Jets’ best performer of the 2021 season: left tackle George Fant.
Tasked with replacing Mekhi Becton at left tackle in Week 2, Fant got off to a hot start and has never looked back. His hot first few games quickly became a strong first half, which extended into a great three-quarters of the season, which has now become a near-complete season of elite play.
It can no longer be denied that Fant is not only the Jets’ most consistent player of the 2021 season, but their flat-out best player as well. The calendar is about to flip to 2022 and Fant has done nothing but build upon his top-tier resume each and every week.
As we sit here on the afternoon of Dec. 27 with all but one of Week 16’s games in the books, Fant is one of the absolute best pass-protecting left tackles in football. He has allowed only 18 pressures on 581 pass-blocking snaps this season, an allowed pressure rate of 3.1% that ranks third-best among qualified left tackles:
- Tyron Smith (1.95%) – 8 pressures on 411 pass-blocking snaps
- Andrew Whitworth (2.30%) – 12 pressures on 522 snaps
- George Fant (3.10%) – 18 pressures on 581 snaps
- Trent Williams (3.33%) – 16 pressures on 481 snaps
- Rashawn Slater (3.40%) – 22 pressures on 647 snaps
It has been quite a while since the Jets have had such a dominant pass-blocker at either offensive tackle spot.
Since Pro Football Focus began tracking pressures allowed in 2006, the Jets have enjoyed only two seasons of a sub-4.0% allowed pressure rate from a starting tackle, and both occurred in 2008 when left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson allowed a 3.81% rate and right tackle Damien Woody allowed a 3.17% rate.
Woody’s 3.17% rate in 2008 is the franchise’s PFF-era record for a tackle, which Fant is currently on track to beat with his mark of 3.1%. Fant is comfortably ahead of Ferguson for the team record among left tackles.
No player on the Jets’ roster can claim to be as consistently productive as Fant has been this year. In the majority of his 13 starts at left tackle, Fant brought a level of play ranging from solid to phenomenal, never falling into a single multi-game cold stretch.
Fant allowed fewer than three total pressures in all but one of his starts this year. He has given up no more than three pressures in a single start. Not to mention, Fant has only been credited with giving up one sack.
In the Jets’ most recent contest, a 26-21 win over Jacksonville, Fant played an integral role in more ways than one. Not only did he pitch his third shutout of the year, allowing zero pressures on 26 pass-blocking snaps, but he made one of the most game-changing plays of the afternoon as he broke up a potential Zach Wilson interception off of a tipped ball.
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) December 26, 2021
Fant is only getting better as the year goes on. Over his three starts in December, Fant gave up one pressure on 121 pass-blocking snaps (0.82% pressure rate), the lowest rate in the NFL among qualified left tackles from Weeks 13-16.
Keep in mind what facet of the game we’ve been focusing on in this breakdown: pass protection on the quarterback’s blindside. This is not some ultra-specific skill at a non-premium position we’re hyping up. It’s one of the most important individual skills in the sport – and Fant has been a top-five performer there.
Nobody saw it coming, but it’s officially a true statement now (pending a respectable finish over the final two games of the year): George Fant has been the best player on the New York Jets in 2021.