To start the season, it seems the Jets are on a run.
After Sunday’s 20-14 win at Miami, we talked about the Green & White’s run defense stonewalling Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. But an equal part of the victory was the Jets’ run offense, with Thomas Jones leading the way by grinding out 101 yards on 22 carries and the 6-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that wound up being the difference in the opener.
Jones himself liked the changes that Brett Favre’s presence in the offense brought about in the Dolphins’ defensive approach.
"When you have a quarterback who can throw the ball downfield, you have to respect that and that is what put the running game into a good position," Jones said after the game. "Now you don’t have to worry about having nine guys in the box all the time. The safeties and corners have to respect that your guy can throw it downfield and it makes my job a little easier."
But let’s not overlook the contributions of the Jets’ new-look O-line. Right guard Brandon Moore, old reliable in the middle of that unit, said on a conference call with beat reporters this afternoon that Jones’ 12 summer carries for 29 yards didn’t show the running game’s true colors.
"I don’t know that Thomas had a lot of the caries that showed the true story of what the stats really would be if it was a full game," Moore said. "We knew Miami wanted to stop the run. They’ve got a great front seven down there, a lot of youth mixed in with a little experience. We knew that was something they were going to try to gear to.
"Looking at the film, there’s still a lot of things to clean up, but it’s a good way to start the season. We know Thomas is capable."
Jones, who had 3.6 yards a carry last season, averaged 4.6 Sunday, topped by his 13-yard run off right tackle on the second TD drive; his carries of 2, 14, 5 and 8 yards on the first four plays of the second half, and his powerful wide scoring run.
As we all know by now, TJ last season became the first back in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and score only one TD on the ground, and also that that score came at Dolphin Stadium in December. Maybe it’s because he now has a house in Florida, or he’s fired up by the long-time rivalry. Whatever the reason, here is how Jones as a Jet has run vs. Miami compared to how he’s fared against the rest of the NFL:
|Vs. Rest of NFL||261||934||3.6||66.7||0||2-12|
If this trend holds true, it’s a long way to his fourth game against Miami in Week 17. But Sunday’s first game of four quarters of pounding at an imposing if imperfect Dolphins front gives the feel that Jones and the Jets won’t have to wait that long to show their ground improvement.
The Brady Crunch
No, we haven’t overlooked the announcement out of Massachusetts that Tom Brady, who was set to lead the Patriots into the Meadowlands for Sunday’s home opener, has been placed on IR due to the knee injury he suffered a day ago.
Eric Allen will have a news story up on newyorkjets.com shortly summing up the views of head coach Eric Mangini and other Jets to the sight adjustment everyone will be making in the AFC East with Matt Cassel rather than Brady at the Patriots’ helm.
Regarding Mike Nugent’s thigh injury that made things dicey down the stretch Sunday, Mangini wasn’t ruling in or out bringing in a new kicker until he got the full medical rundown on "Nuge."
"We’ll work out kickers if Mike can’t go," the coach said. "We’ll have a kicker available.
"The players have got to go through the whole process of tests, evaluations. That’s what Mike will do. … We have to determine how long the injury’s going to be. It could be a couple of weeks, it could be longer, it could be shorter. You may not have to bring anybody in."
Mangini was happy with the return to the sideline of another Mike, as in Westhoff.
"It’s nice having Mike back. I like the things Mike and Kevin [O'Dea] did yesterday, the way we had the input from both systems. Mike has a very unique way about him. It’s nice having him back."
And Mangini felt one of his rookies, top pick Vernon Gholston, did his best work on specials.
"I thought Vernon did some positive things. One place where he actually had a nice impact was on the punt return team," the coach said. "He got to put some good pressure on the punter, he did a nice job in terms of his hold-ups, and he played some on the kickoff team. Talk about new worlds for him as a standup linebacker, now he’s covering punts and kickoffs — that’s a new world, too."
As for the sack of Chad Pennington that just eluded Gholston, Mangini explained that his rookie seemed to anticipate a Pennington seven-step drop when Chad was only dropping a quick five, then stepping up.
"I’m sure he’ll play that over in his mind a couple of times," the coach said.
Tags: Brandon Moore, Brett Favre, Eric Mangini, Mike Nugent, Thomas Jones, Tom Brady, Vernon Gholston
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