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 (3.03%) – 18 pressures on 584 snaps
- Trent Williams (3.33%) – 16 pressures on 481 snaps
- Rashawn Slater (3.40%) – 22 pressures on 647 snaps
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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.
George Fant lays a big hit on Damien Wilson to prevent an interception #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/r5f1JYDmkg
— 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.
There seems to be a lot of talk about Fant staying at LT and Becton moving to RT next season. Do you think that’s a viable possibility? Can Becton play RT?
Let’s find out. We didn’t know if Fant could play left tackle until he became a top 3-5 LT in the league.
Again, Michael Nanna is the best Jets sportswriter. Bringing the facts and the stats. I wouldn’t have guessed Fant, but now its beyond a shadow of a doubt. I say we draft a center, a guard, WR and a right tackle with the first 4 picks. When I watch the Jets play the other good teams, I am astounded and jealous with the amount of time the qb has to throw. Let’s have the line that Rex had when we lead the league in rushing. As far as Fant at LT, yes. If we have a top 3-5 LT, why change it? How much better can you get? Put Becton at RT. Let Moses walk. Get a TE with the Moses money. Let’s keep Zach healthy and effective. Don’t want to watch Zach running for his life when we play Miami (and everyone else)? I had enough of watching Darnold run for his life for 3 years. Thats not fun to watch. Get the best linemen this year and then draft defense with the rest of our picks. I am tired of watching the no offense Jets play teams that can score. I am hopeful with Zach. Everyone gets a rookie pass. Especially on a 2 win prior team.
Agree with the growing chorus of keeping Fant at LT next year, and moving Becton to RT. I also agree with brining back Moses as a swing. Although tempting, I would resist drafting an OT in R1. With likely 2 top 10 picks, if there are offers, trading down is the way to go this year. You will get a good Edge player throughout R1.
I know we have tons of needs but if they get the best center and guard in this draft I’ll freak out. In a good way.
Okay , how many Jet Fans would say that George Fant is the Jets best player ? Pretty bold, but Michael ha the receipts , very well done and very correct.
And this is why Fant should remain at LT. Just leave it alone. He’s good, move Becton, and add a premium player (round 2), keep that line improving.
Exactly. George has the perfect skill set for a Left Tackle, this is the first year he has gotten significant reps at the position. Once again keeping Fant at LT and Moving Mount Becton is the way to go. That being said George has Trade value, not only because of his elite performance, but because he makes “only “ 10 million. With FA starting Left Tackles priced north of 18 million
I think we are past the “trade value” time. We need good players, why trade a top player at a position to “hope” you replace him? Just keep the good player. Extend him, you know what he can do. Check LT off the “to-do list” and go take care of something else.
Absolutely correct, Becton will flourish at Right Tackle. Consider, that the entire TE group, require 3 new TE’s and a fullback.. Get a dominant blocking TE paired with Becton and run right all day long. LDT is a good bandaide for RG, but Offensive Guard needs to be addressed with a premium pick in this years draft.
A trade could net you a possible third round pick, and save you 10 million in CAP space. Once again George is cheap in 2022 for a LT. If you decide not to trade , you have to commit to extend. George is a-leader on this team , extend.
It’ll be interesting to see how they handle Fant, Becton and the backup swing tackle position next year. I’d bring Moses back and go with the same 3.
I like bringing them all back as well DHB and drafting the best center and/or guard or both. Just finish the O-line rebuild this year, and put a wall in front of the kid.
I agree. Kenyon Green at G perhaps.