Florham Park, N.J.– After last season and the struggles of the rookie quarterback no one would have predicted this. The expectations were the same all across the board, play great defense, run the ball, all day, to eat up the clock and let Mark Sanchez manage the game.
The actuality is the Jets have almost as many pass attempts as rushing attempts so far this season, 82 rushing attempts to 79 pass attempts. Sanchez hasn’t just managed the game, he has continually made plays to win the last two games for the Jets.
Imagine if you asked anyone, before the season, what the Jets record would be if after three games the Jets had almost as many passes as rushes, you think many people would haves guessed 2-1?
Last season the Jets ran the ball more than any other team in the league (83 times more than the second team Carolina), and because of this they ran for more yards than any other team. The Jets rushed the ball a total of 607 times last season, which averages out to 37.93 attempts per game (currently they are on pace for 10 less carries game), compared to 393 pass attempts.
Obviously this is what the Jets had to do last year as they still had the chains on their rookie quarterback.
Now its becoming more clear that Sanchez is capable of being asked to do more than most people thought, but still the Jets are about defense and running the ball, right?
With an equal amount of passing and rushing attempts through three games many fans are wondering whether the dynamic of this offense has changed, but not only would Ryan object to the very thought of that idea, the numbers don’t really back it up either.
Yes, the number of rushing and passing attempts are almost equal and in comparison to last year there is an alarming difference, but the Jets still have the ninth best rushing attack in the NFL right now. In those 82 attempts the Jets have run for 398 yards (132.7 yards per game, on 4.9 yards a carry) showing that despite the perception that the running game is struggling it is still doing fairly well.
The running game is performing well, but it’s not being relayed upon as much so far this year. As the months get colder and the wind starts to pick up this will have to change if the Jets plan on making a deep playoff run and there should be little doubt that it will in fact change.
The focus shouldn’t be put on the lack of rushing attempts, the Jets will break out the Ground-and-Pound style when it’s called for, but Ryan knows at different times against different opponents, different things will help you win the game. Some days it will be the run game and others you’ll need more passing, it all depends on the opponent and how the game unfolds.
All coaches go into games with an ideal game plan, but if things don’t go exactly as hoped then adjustments have to be made. Being able to make the right in-game adjustments is a requirement to being a great coach and Ryan knows this.
“I’d much rather Ground-and-Pound than throw it all the time, but we’re going to win no matter what it takes. We expect to throw the ball more this year. We just don’t want to have to do it out of necessity. We want to dictate when we throw (and) dictate when we run.” Ryan said, “With the guys that we added, when you add Santonio Holmes when he comes back (and) we know Dustin Keller, the kind of chemistry that Mark (Sanchez) and him have, Braylon (Edwards) knowing the offense now and not just being thrown into the wolves and of course Jerricho (Cotchery) and adding LaDainian (Tomlinson) and with Shonn Greene, we should have an outstanding offense. We can do more than just run the ball at you, but if you ask my preference, I’d just assume run it.”
Obviously the Jets would like to dictate when they run and when they pass, that’s what every offense strives for and while the deceiving numbers could fool you, that is exactly what the Jets have done so far. It’s just people weren’t expecting Sanchez to have had so much success and the Jets game planned around knowing they had more confidence in their quarterback than their opponent did.
A quick look at the first three games should help to explain the balanced numbers.
Week one against the Ravens, the Jets repeatedly found themselves in first down and 15-20 yards, so they often found themselves passing to try and make up all the penalty yards they were giving away.
Week two against the Patriots, as well as week three against the ‘Fins, the Jets came out firing on first and second downs to keep the defenses off balance. The Jets knew both teams would be playing run first so they decided to pass to open up the run. In both cases the plan worked and the strategy lead to two huge division victories.
Sanchez has proved so far that if given the chance he can hurt defenses and now the defense must respect the Jets arial assault, which means less eight men in the box and more space for the running backs to work with.
This week’s game should provide a perfect opportunity for the Jets to establish a dominate running game as they play a Bills team that allowed the Jets to run wild against them last year (318 yards in one game and 249 in the second). So far this season the Bills are the 27th ranked team in rushing yards allowed, giving up 141 yards per game. So if there was ever a game to establish the running game the one the Jets play on Sunday would be it.
The one real concern for the rushing attack is that Shonn Greene hasn’t been as effective as most thought he would be. After becoming a breakout star during the playoffs last season he has had trouble finding room to run.
The reasons for this are mostly due to the situations the Jets were facing, but the Jets will no doubt look to get Greene going this week against the struggling Bills defense.
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