Jets fans around the nation groaned when they found out the team was keeping Hunter on the roster after a disappointing 2011 campaign.
Last season, his first one as the Jets' full-time starter, he allowed 8.5 sacks. He also committed 11 penalties, including seven false starts.
But let's go back to the 2010-2011 season. Hunter started the last three regular-season games and all three playoff games in place of the injured tackle Damien Woody.
In his first start against the Steelers, the Jets gave up just one sack. It came on what looked like a designed quarterback draw
and netted zero yards lost.
The following week, against the Bears, the Jets as a team gave up zero sacks.
We can skip over the regular-season finale against the Bills, since that came against scrubs and did not mean anything to the Jets anyway.
In the first playoff game against the Colts, the Jets again allowed just one sack. Left guard Matt Slauson was the clear culprit.
Against the Patriots in the Divisional Round, the Jets once again allowed zero sacks.
The AFC Championship Game was the Jets' offensive line's worst performance of the entire 2011 playoffs, as they gave up a grand total of two sacks. Both came on the same ill-fated drive at the end of the first half.
Lamar Woodley got by reserve tackle/guard Robert Turner for the first one.
The second was the infamous strip sack and touchdown by Ike Taylor
. Taylor crushed Sanchez on a blitz after coming through the line unblocked.
So in five games as a starter, against top competition, Wayne Hunter allowed zero sacks.
Clearly the ability to protect the passer is there. What happened in 2011?
Don't forget, the entire offensive line struggled last season, not just Hunter. In fact, Hunter was not even the team leader in sacks allowed . That honor goes to Pro Bowl left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
Right guard Brandon Moore underwent hip surgery in February 2011. Matt Slauson struggled with left shoulder ailments that required surgery in the offseason. All-Pro center Nick Mangold missed two games with an ankle injury.
With Hunter's fellow teammates battling injury all season, it is any wonder the line did not perform up to expectations? The rest of the linemen could not fully do their jobs, which made it all the more difficult for Hunter to do his.
Plus, thanks to the lockout, the line did not get the chance to work on its chemistry as much as it should have with a new starter in tow. These two issues combined contributed to both Hunter's and Ferguson's struggles last year.
So maybe, just maybe, a healthy line of teammates next to him will be exactly what Hunter needs to get back on track. A full offseason and training camp to work won't hurt either.