Before the Jets were blessed with a Hall of Fame quarterback, they had a plan to be the nastiest smashmouth football team in the division.
That’s why they went out and got Alan Faneca and Damien Woody and added Bill Callahan as the offensive specialist. Adding to that, Thomas Jones is a between-the-tackles runner who can burn the clock and get to the second level. No matter the results this year, you have to appreciate the fact that a "plan" was in place and successfully implemented.
Now, it clearly changed once Brett Favre joined the team, but this team was built to run the ball. Don’t get me wrong, Favre makes the Jets ten times better. Still, he took a little focus away from what is clearly the strength of the team: the rushing attack. It’s something Faneca has been talking about all year: "Cultivate the ground game."
Against the Raiders, the Jets averaged 7.3 yards per rush by sticking with the run. I know it was in a losing effort, but I think the critics were too quick to slam the coaches for staying conservative in overtime. The holes that line was opening looked like something you could walk a pachyderm through.
Against the Chiefs the number dropped to 5.6 per carry and that was helped out greatly by that sensational 60-yard run by Washington. There is the belief that the pass can set up the run, and maybe the Jets can be successful that way. But it’s becoming clearer that the balanced attack can rely a little more on the ground game.
The Jets need to become the kind of team that can run the ball when it matters most. In the red zone, running out the clock, and when they’re facing eight-man fronts.
I’m not saying smashing your head against a brick wall repeatedly will get the job done, but you have to run to set up the rest of the offense. It slows down the pass rush, keeps the defense on the field, shortens the game and gives your own defense a rest. It also sets up Favre’s most dangerous weapon: the play-action pass.
From the first day Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum took the reins of this team, the message was clear. Build a smart, tough team that excels in the cold weather of the Northeast. That starts with a running game. Considering the fact we’ve busted out our winter coats for a trip to Buffalo this week … that starts now.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brett Favre, Buffalo Bills, Thomas Jones
Posted in Steve Overmyer | 50 Comments »