Rex Ryan certainly laid it out there Monday, using some variation of the phrase “We have to run the ball better” in 12 of his sentences at his day-after news conference.
But it might be premature to think that means the Jets will be gunning for 50 carries or bust at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots on Sunday. The Jets’ locker room today offered variations of a slightly different theme.
“You can’t be one-dimensional,” said RB Shonn Greene. “We’ve got to spread some things out with the passing game. We’ll mix things up a little bit.”
“The biggest thing for us as a team,” said CB Antonio Cromartie, “is to go up there with the right mindset and come out with a win.”
Then there’s center Nick Mangold, who is giving signs that he’ll be able to return vs. the Pats from his high ankle sprain. What about this potential return to “Ground & Pound,” he was asked.
“I think there needs to be a return to winning. Whatever that is, passing the ball, running the ball, I don’t care what it is. We need to get back to winning.”
Sounds like winning is the game plan. Will the offense, though, be 70/30 run/pass or 70/30 pass/run? Seems like everyone’s got an opinion but no one’s really saying. As Bill Parcells always used to say, “You’re gonna have to come to the game to find out, fellas.”
“I’m not sure how the game plan is going to pan out,” said TE Dustin Keller. “But one thing I know from last year’s playoff game is that everybody’s going to be vital. If that’s passing to the tight end? Great/ The outside guys doing their thing? Great. Getting the running game going? That’s awesome.”
I asked Dustin if, regardless of the balance or the lack thereof in the Jets’ offense, this game figures to be a big tight end game? “I agree,” he said with a slight smile. “I agree with that.”
From the Patriots’ point of view, that goes without saying. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski combined in their 2010 rookie seasons for 16 catches, 247 yards, a touchdown and 11 first downs in their three games against the Jets.
But Keller has had a similar impact on New England. Consider this trivia question: Since 2006, which NFL tight end has the most catches against the Patriots? It’s Keller with 28 in seven games, and he wasn’t even born as an NFL player in ’06-07. There were his eight catches for seven first downs in the OT win at Gillette in his rookie season of ’08, his TD catch in Rex Ryan’s home opener as Jets HC in ’09, his 7-for-115 and a score in Game 2 last season.
Keller is one of the constants who make questions about a Jets crisis utterly premature now.
“We definitely need to get back on track and start doing the things we’re used to doing and we’re capable of doing, but we’re definitely not in panic mode,” the now fourth-year pro said. “We know what we have to do. It’s just a matter of doing it.”
Except for Bryan Thomas, of course, the Jets injury report isn’t too concerning. Oh, there was WR Plaxico Burress, listed for the fourth week out of five this regular season with his third different aching body part. This time, Ryan said, Plax woke up this morning with a swollen elbow. He didn’t practice but Rex said, “He looks good.”
Similarly, LB Calvin Pace was a DNP with an abdomen injury but the coach said, “I think he’s going to be just fine.” And first-year LB Garrett McIntyre (concussion) “seems to be doing better each day” but was also held out.
The Jets’ limiteds were Mangold and DL Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder).
Ryan confirmed that Thomas is out for the season with his Achilles injury from Sunday night but as of this afternoon BT had not been placed on IR, so he’s being listed as out. The only changes to the Jets roster were practice team moves: G Dennis Landolt was added today after WR Michael Campbell and TE Martell Webb were released late Tuesday.
The Patriots list 16 players on their first injury report of the week. Seven did not participate in team drills — WR Julian Edelman (ankle), DL Albert Haynesworth (back), TE Aaron Hernandez (knee), LB Jerod Mayo (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back), RB Danny Woodhead (ankle) and DL Mike Wright (concussion).
Eight others were limited up in Foxboro — CB Kyle Arrington (chest), S Josh Barrett (thumb/hamstring), CB Leigh Bodden (groin), S Patrick Chung (hand), CB Ras-I Dowling (hip), DL Shaun Ellis (knee), LB Gary Guyton (hamstring) and DL Kyle Love (ankle).
One thing we’re pretty sure about: Ellis will play against his former team. In the 2009-10 seasons, including playoffs, the Big Katt started a Jets game week on the injury report 20 times. In all 20 games he wound up starting.
Two December Games Staying Put
Two of the Jets’ upcoming games on CBS have been “protected” and will not be subject to flex scheduling down the line. Those games are Dec. 4 at Washington, a 1 p.m. ET start, and Dec. 18 at Philadelphia, a 4:15 start.
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Antonio Cromartie, Dustin Keller, New England Patriots, Nick Mangold, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, Shonn Greene
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