Just days before the Jets’ critical clash with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, LaDainian Tomlinson joined us for an appearance on “Four Quarters” and talked about the offense’s identity.
“I think we’re obviously in a bit of a transition. We don’t run the ball as much as we used to. We’re trying to be a little bit more balanced,” he said. “We want to be a team that can do both. If you stop our running game, we want to be able to throw the football. If you’re playing coverage against us, we want to be able to run the football.”
Despite their poor showing in Baltimore without All-Pro C Nick Mangold, the Green & White rank No. 11 in scoring at 25 points per game. After the offense accounted for just three points against the Ravens and allowed three touchdowns themselves while Mark Sanchez repeatedly got hit in the pocket, head coach Rex Ryan told his team they have to find a way to run the football.
“Coach has stated to us that we have to find our running game and we agree. We have to make these runs work that we’re calling and we’re game-planning during the week, and I think we will,” said Tomlinson. “We’re putting more of an emphasis on it and I think you’ll see a change.”
Once a formidable rushing club, the Jets are ranked 30th in both rush yards per game (71.0) and per attempt (3.09). The offensive line has had its share of problems as OL Rob Turner is on injured reserve, Mangold has been out since Week 2 with a high ankle sprain and rookie undrafted free agent Colin Baxter was pushed into the starting role at center. The Jets hope Mangold can return against the Patriots after they averaged 2.0 yards a rush and totaled 38 on the ground in B-More.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re going to change and go back to the Ground & Pound because it’s only been four games. We’re 2-2,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve had some real explosive games where we’ve put up a ton of yards and really looked good.
“I think people need to be patient. I think any time you are in a state of transition and you’re kind of changing the philosophy a little bit — I’m not say we’re changing it all the way because we’re still going to run the football, but we’re being more balanced. Anytime you’re doing that, it takes a bit of time so people just need to be patient.”
After Shonn Greene was anointed the bellcow in the offseason, the third-year back has averaged 3.1 yards on his 51 rush attempts. The holes just haven’t been there on numerous occasions and Tomlinson has preached patience to Greene.
“When you’re a young guy and it’s your chance and you want to show everybody what you can do and it’s not going quite the way you want it to, you can have a tendency to feel like ‘Hey, it’s a reflection on me’ and lose that confidence,” Tomlinson said. “But Shonn is handling it well. He understands it’s a long season and we’re going to get things going.”
Statistically the Patriots have the NFL’s worst defense and they rank 18th overall against the run (108.8 yards per game). But they are 3-1 mainly because they’re scoring 33.8 points a game and the Jets are going to have to not only move the ball but score touchdowns in Week 5.
“For us, we have to think about right now. We have to win now. We have to win this game,” Tomlinson said. “We can’t say it’s a long season. We have to play like our backs are against the wall because we can drop the Patriots to the same record we have and be tied in the division.”
Having embraced his role as a “third-down” back, Tomlinson is a terrific blocker and is averaging a healthy 15.4 yards per reception.
“I’ve always said that whatever my role was, I’m going to be the best at it. When it was defined that I was going to be the third-down guy coming out of the backfield catching passes, I accepted the challenge and said I’m going to be as good as I can be, be the best at it,” he said. “It’s something I felt like it wasn’t difficult to do.”
But it’s his role at home as a proud dad that has Tomlinson beaming. He and his wife, Torsha, welcomed a baby daughter to the world on Sept. 10 — one day before the regular season kicked off.
“The past month has been great. Obviously we had a new addition in my family, Dayah. There have been times when I haven’t slept much, honestly, and then there have been times where Dayah has been able to let me sleep throughout the whole night,” he said. “There are ups and downs to it, but I’ll tell you what — there is no greater joy than having kids. We’re just excited about, we’re blessed and we’re looking forward to the future.”
His immediate football future has a weekend trip to the northeast on the itinerary. Tomlinson says the Jets gained confidence from their AFC Divisional Playoff triumph at Gillette Stadium in January, but he said each game has a different script.
“They are a very prideful group with a great head coach, a great coaching staff and great players. I’m sure Bill [Belichick] is telling them the thing that happened last year and how we acted after the game,” he said. “So there will be a sense of revenge on their part.”
“Four Quarters” with LaDainian Tomlinson will air this week on newyorkjets.com. Click here to watch any “Four Quarters” episodes you may have missed.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Dayah, LaDainian Tomlinson, New England Patriots, Shonn Greene, Torsha
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