It wasn't exactly a case of protecting the new guy in the Jets' offense.
In his first NFL start, Greg McElroy got the true trial by fire, with the Jets tying a team record by allowing 11 sacks in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers. The performance was bad enough that veteran guard and amenable locker-room presence Brandon Moore declined to talk after the game.
His fellow blockers didn't have many answers for the record-tying ugliness. It was the most sacks allowed in an NFL game this season, one shy of the league record and the most since the replacement Jets allowed 11 sacks to the replacement Cowboys on Oct. 4, 1987. A fellow by the name of David Norrie got sacked 11 times that day.
So that makes Sunday worse by comparison, given that there were no strike-breakers trying to keep McElroy upright. He was hit 16 times by the Chargers, with rookie Kendall Reyes getting 31/2 sacks (he had two coming into the game), veteran Shaun Phillips 21/2 and second-year defensive end Corey Liuget two.
"I don't know, I really don't know," D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "It wasn't our day."
The Chargers entered the game with only 27 sacks, tied for 23rd in the league. The Jets, among all of their other offensive woes, had allowed 35, 10th-most in the NFL -- a high number, but not so bad relative to their other miscues with Mark Sanchez under center.
"You're definitely surprised," tight end Jeff Cumberland said. "The only thing we changed was the quarterback."
To the naked eye, the offensive line looked worst, beaten by an array of twists and stunts that center Nick Mangold said San Diego had not done much of before. But with a new quarterback, there was more to the 11-sack performance than met the eye.
"Everybody looks at it and says, 'That's all on the O-line.' But it's really a little bit of everybody," Cumberland said. "It's receivers and tight ends making reads, it's the QB making reads, the backs chipping -- it was everyone."
The Jets have another game with McElroy to get their protection squared away. It would be tempting to say it can't get any worse, but there are no guarantees.
"The big thing is watch the film and really assess how those 11 sacks happened, who's to blame and how we can get better," Braylon Edwards said. "We'll watch the film and we'll definitely correct that. I can promise, I can guarantee, you won't see 11 sacks next week."