Jets’ offense improving with rejuvenated run game
Shonn Greene was prepared for the frustrating questions each
week for much of the first half of the New York Jets’ season.
What’s going on with the running game? Where’s the
”Ground-and-Pound” approach that coach Rex Ryan was so fond
Well, the Jets are pounding opponents again on the ground, and
the offense has shown signs of efficiency. Just in time for perhaps
New York’s toughest stretch of the season.
”Obviously,” Greene said Wednesday, ”we have our identity
Thanks to Greene and a rejuvenated rushing attack, New York has
returned to being a run-first offense which has helped set up Mark
Sanchez and the passing game.
”I just think we’re playing Jets football,” Ryan said. ”I
feel that we’re a much more confident team playing this way, this
There are still mistakes to be cleaned up, as evidenced by a
shaky first half in a 27-11 victory at Buffalo last Sunday. But the
Jets (5-3) have three straight victories, with a first-place
showdown up next with the New England Patriots (5-3) on Sunday
The last time the AFC East rivals played, back on Oct. 9, the
Jets were sent to their third straight loss. Ryan insisted he saw
some improvements, a few things New York could build on. The Jets
haven’t lost since, and it’s no coincidence the re-emergence of the
running game has occurred during that stretch.
”We’re starting to come into our own as an offense,” Sanchez
The Jets ran for a modest 97 yards against New England in the
first meeting, including 83 by Greene. It was the third straight
game New York was without All-Pro center Nick Mangold, and his
impact on both the running game and offensive line was clear as
Colin Baxter tried to fill in.
Mangold went down with a sprained ankle in the second game of
the season against Jacksonville, and Greene had 49 yards rushing.
Greene followed that performance with 59 yards against Oakland and
only 23 against Baltimore.
”We never make excuses, but I wanted to,” Ryan said. ”He’s
the best center in football. Kind of like the Darrelle Revis of
corners, that’s what Nick Mangold is at center. So, having him out
obviously was a great loss to us.”
Added tight end Dustin Keller: ”He’s the quarterback of the
o-line, gets everybody where they need to be. He’s really
Mangold returned for the sixth game of the season against Miami,
and Greene rushed for 74 yards. The third-year running back
followed that up with 112 yards against San Diego and then 76
against Buffalo last Sunday.
”I think overall as a team, we just got more into a rhythm,”
said Greene, 10th in the AFC with 502 yards rushing. ”Earlier in
the season, we were kind of out of sync, but now we’re fired up and
going on all cylinders and everyone’s doing well.”
It hasn’t all been a product of Mangold being healthy, of
course. The improvements have also come from a complete change in
approach on offense. Ryan has always preached the
”Ground-and-Pound” philosophy, wanting what he calls an
”all-weather” offense. But signing Plaxico Burress and Derrick
Mason in the offseason, and pairing them with Santonio Holmes got
him and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer excited.
Suddenly, the Jets were passing more than ever under Ryan. But
after that loss to New England, Ryan and Schottenheimer switched
gears – and likely saved the season.
”I got enamored with throwing the ball a little bit more out of
different personnel groupings,” Ryan said. ”We’ll throw plenty,
but I think the fact that we’re able to run the football and doing
that more effectively than we did at the beginning of the year and
making more of an emphasis in the running game, I think helps our
Mason is long gone, having been traded to Houston after a short
and unproductive tenure with the Jets. That move was a clear
indication that New York was going a different direction: back to
the type of offense that helped lead it to two straight AFC
”Well, we’ve just been balanced,” Sanchez said. ”Whether it’s
30-plus pass attempts or the 25- or 28-range, I feel comfortable
with all of it. But I just think our team works this way.”
As does Ryan, even though he acknowledged that there could be a
temptation to want to throw a little more Sunday against a Patriots
team ranked last in pass defense.
”It’s a balancing act,” he said. ”There’s no question.”
Sanchez is still developing a rapport with Burress and rookie
Jeremy Kerley, but has been a lot more accurate starting with the
last game against the Patriots. He trails only Pittsburgh’s Ben
Roethlisberger in the AFC with a 94.7 passer rating during that
The Jets have also been solid in the red zone, converting 16 of
their 25 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line into touchdowns.
That’s only four shy of their total from all of last season. And,
it might have been more if not for a bad interception in the end
zone that short-circuited a 10-minute drive at Buffalo.
”The offense is kind of getting into a groove here,” Sanchez
said. ”We just want to keep it going and keep taking care of the
Notes: Ryan acknowledged he made G Brandon Moore a team captain
about a month ago, but didn’t announce it at the time. He called it
an ”oversight,” and added ”it’s somebody that I should have,
from Day 1, made a captain.” … Ryan for the second time this
week challenged Jets fans to be loud at MetLife Stadium and ”make
it miserable” for the Patriots on Sunday night.