On Sunday at Buffalo, Rex Ryan received high scores from the judges, especially for the degree of difficulty, when he executed a flying butt bump with Santonio Holmes on the sideline following Tone’s fourth-quarter TD snare.
Today Ryan talked about the Patriots and his next event in the NFL head-coaching decathlon: performing on the offensive balance beam.
“It is a balancing act, no question,” Ryan responded to the question of whether to have coordinator Brian Schottenheimer keep on grounding and pounding with the Jets’ clearly improving running game or to attack early and often through the air against New England’s 32nd-ranked pass defense when the Pats visit MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.
“If you win, you balanced it correctly. If you don’t, you were wrong. I’m OK with that, I can accept that. We do have some targets, we do have some weapons. Obviously we have Santonio, Plax, Dustin, the backs out of the backfield. Certainly it’s something we’ll try to do. But we also want to run the football.”
Some would argue that the Jets’ shifting to overland mode at New England four games ago and not going up top on the then also-ranked last pass defense in the league didn’t help in the Jets’ 30-21 loss that day.
But it can be argued that beginning with Game 5 at Foxboro, the Jets returned to a formula resembling the one that moved the ball well in 2009-10. Or in the words of RB Shonn Greene after today’s practice, “Obviously we have our identity back.”
■ In the Jets’ first four games, their rushers averaged 71 rushing yards per game, 3.1 per carry, 1.2 before first contact, 1.9 after first contact. In their last four, the numbers are 120 yards per game, 3.9 per carry, 1.8 BFC, 2.1 AFC. Not great numbers, but a start on the road back.
■ In the first four games, the Green & White had 14 rushing first downs. In the last four they’ve had 28.
■ Ryan likes to measure his offense’s effectiveness in terms of rushing attempts plus completions. In the first four games the Jets averaged 43.3 A+Cs per game, with a season-low 30 coming in Game 4 at Baltimore. In the last four, they’ve averaged 48.0 per game, with a season-high 59 coming in Game 8 at Buffalo.
■ In the first four games the Jets were 2-2 and trending down. In the last four they’re 3-1 and feeling feisty again.
Needless to say, a number of reasons could account for the one-game improvement in the W-L record from the first quarter to the second, but he and others still feel “very comfortable and confident” in the return to their roots.
Said Greene: “The offensive line’s doing a great job, all the backs are working hard for yardage. We know what we’re going to do and we’re going to stick to that. It’s going to be physical Jets football.”
And said Ryan about the temptation to have Mark Sanchez match Tom Brady pass for pass on Sunday: “I just want to win. I don’t care what it takes. If it means we’re going to have to throw 50 times, so be it. … And to run the ball effectively is the biggest thing we can do for our team.”
The Jets’ first injury report of the week may look a little lopsided with three players not practicing and two limited in team drills, but don’t let those appearances fool you.
“I feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Ryan said. “I think we’re healthy. We’re going to be just fine.”
The DNPs were WR Plaxico Burress, who put his sore lower back behind him Sunday to post team-leading and season-high totals of five catches and 79 yards against the Bills; KR Joe McKnight (toe) and S Brodney Pool (knee). Limited were DT Marcus Dixon (shoulder) and LB Josh Mauga (back). Eight players were listed as full participants, including three who’ve sat out a few recent games — DT Mike DeVito (knee), DT Kenrick Ellis (ankle) and CB Isaiah Trufant (hamstring).
For the Patriots, it looks a little more dire, but looks can be deceiving here as well. Four players are listed as DNPs — S Patrick Chung (foot), LBs Brandon Spikes (knee) and Dane Fletcher (thumb), and OL Ryan Wendell (concussion). And nine were limited at today’s practice at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. — WR Wes Welker (rib), RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe) and Kevin Faulk (knee), LBs Jerod Mayo (knee) and Gary Guyton (shoulder), CB Kyle Arrington (foot), T Sebastian Vollmer, WR Taylor Price (hamstring) and our old friend DE Shaun Ellis (rib).
Tags: Brian Schottenheimer, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene
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