George Fant, New York Jets, Stats, Highlights, PFF, Film
George Fant, New York Jets, Getty Images

The film shows how George Fant made a huge impact on the 2021 New York Jets offense

I’ve written a lot about George Fant recently. Shortly after we covered the news of his apparent frustration with the lack of a contract extension, I discussed why I think he is the New York Jets’ most fascinating player of the 2022 season.

With all of this Fant talk, I wanted to analyze some film clips from his 2021 season to help showcase exactly what he did to put up the impressive statistics that I keep referencing.

Before we get into the film, let’s talk a little about the differences in how the football world tends to evaluate pass-blocking (Fant’s strength) versus run-blocking (Fant’s weakness).

The subtlety of elite pass-blocking

Fant wasn’t an overwhelming run-blocker in 2021, earning a pedestrian run-blocking grade of 59.9 at Pro Football Focus (25th out of 33 left tackles). He hasn’t yet proven he is a strong two-way force.

But it’s hard to be much better in the passing game than Fant was in 2021, at least from a production standpoint. Fant saved a whopping 15.4 total pressures versus expectation. That ranked seventh-best among all tackles and fourth-best among left tackles.

Here’s the explanation for that stat: Fant gave up 18 pressures on 594 pass-blocking snaps (3.03% rate, third-best among LT) whereas the league-average tackle (5.62% pressure rate) would have been expected to give up 33.4 pressures over the same number of snaps. Subtract 18 from 33.4 and you get Fant’s stellar mark of plus-15.4.

That’s a tremendous impact on paper – but does the film back up his elite-level production?

In my opinion, it does.

I think the quality of Fant’s performance in pass protection is often overlooked because of the aesthetic differences between pass-blocking and run-blocking. Great pass-blocking isn’t supposed to pop off the screen in the way that great run-blocking does. As a matter of fact, it’s the complete opposite. If a guy is thriving as a pass-blocker, you should never notice him while watching the game.

This is what Fant was doing all throughout the 2021 season. He was rarely ever singled out by the commentators during a television broadcast or subjected to the vitriol of fans on social media. Fant just continued to quietly do his job, snap after snap.

Whereas run-blocking is about racking up positive plays, pass-blocking is about avoiding negative plays. In many ways, pass-blocking and run-blocking have a similar relationship to defensive backs and wide receivers. Defensive backs are supposed to prevent plays while wide receivers are supposed to make plays.

It’s a lot more difficult to notice the cumulative impact of a player’s ability to avoid negatives than it is to notice their ability to accumulate positives. This is why run-blocking tends to draw more praise for offensive linemen than pass-blocking, and why good receivers get more shine for their production than good cornerbacks do for the lack of production they allow.

Fant is well respected after his 2021 campaign, but it doesn’t feel like he gets a level of fanfare that matches up with the quality of his protection statistics. He certainly doesn’t get as much hype as some other similarly talented offensive linemen, largely because his play isn’t as highlight-worthy.

However, I would argue that plenty of impressive Fant highlights can be found within the Jets’ offensive passing highlights as a team. When the Jets made a big passing play, Fant’s great pass protection was frequently a key part of why the play happened.

That’s what great pass-protection is all about. Good things tend to happen when the quarterback is kept clean.

Fant was (quietly) instrumental in some of the Jets’ biggest offensive plays of the 2021 season. Let’s break down the film behind how Fant’s elite pass-blocking numbers translated to tangible impact on the field.

Film


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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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hh11212
hh11212
3 months ago

Still not buying what you are selling and I almost always agree. Really feel you overestimating Fant. He was solid and that is all. But he really had almost no tough matchups. I still contend Becton was better per snap and that Fant is overrated because Becton had a ew bad reps over the course of a rookie season. But he was better than Fant despite this.

Not worth more than 14 million per. If he wants more kick rocks. No offense to Fant he is a good player but you don’t overpay for solid players. You overpay occasionally for stars only.

hh11212
hh11212
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

As always respect your opinion because you put in the work. Eager to see how this situation and the season plays out.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
3 months ago
Reply to  hh11212

Clearly Fant is a top 15-20 LT, and is only getting better. A second season in John Benton’s system should see him take another step. I’d resign him, especially with the questions about Becton.

hh11212
hh11212
3 months ago

A top 15 to 20 LT is not a 15 million dollar or more per yr player. That would rank Fant somewhere bewteen 30 and 45 (not all top OT play LT) Becton was a top Ten LT by the end of his first yr. He played better competition and still graded out better than Fant. If Fant doesn’t want to take a small discount when we took a chance on him back in 2020 than I would trade him and move on and sign Eric Fisher or Riley Reiff to play RT and there would be no difference. I like Fant but we overrate Jets players who perform well to borderline All-Pros.

Fant good player, who wants to be paid like a Pro-Bowler. He may get better or he may get be exposed against better competiton. Pass for me.