During the bye week we're presenting midseason reports on the three phases of the Jets attack. Today: Offense:
Rex Ryan said the Jets' sputtery offense for much of the first seven games was a matter of "we weren't being ourselves." Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer felt it was more that game situations were often dictating that the offense was "not going to have a lot of chance to run the football."
No doubt it was a little of both. And no doubt, from the sounds of it, "Ground and Pound" is back, just in time for the cold weather and some vulnerable run defenses in the last nine games on the post-bye-week schedule.
The plan going into San Diego was to run the ball with the effectiveness the Jets had in the first two seasons of the Ryan/Schottenheimer offense. And that's what they did. Their 162 rush yards and their 5.2 yards per carry, with
"They were hard-fought yards," QB
"The running game takes time," said Coach Schotty. "We finally got a really good feel for the line and moving people and finishing blocks. Shonn's a guy that needs some carries. That's what you should expect to see from us moving forward."
Benefits of Ground and Pound
All the signs are that Greene, the line and fullback
Now was all of this a false positive because the Jets ran into a Chargers front that the linemen —
In fact, the average ranking for those next nine opponents is 22nd in rush yards per game and 20th in yards per carry. And they're arriving just as the temperature is dropping, the leaves are falling and "all-weather" offenses begin to ride their running games toward the playoffs.
Of course, the biggest benefit a sound Ground and Pound provides is balance so that the passing game can operate at peak efficiency.
"I think one of the things you'll see now that we're running the ball so well," Schottenheimer said, "is that as people begin to have to load up the box, that'll open things up for more shots down the field."
The Good Hands People
And the theory extends to the receivers. More defenders in the box Sunday may have led the Chargers to singling
And when defenses return to doubling Burress, Sanchez gets more opportunities to find
Then there's the emergence of rookie
"It's not too big for Jeremy. He's got a great look on his face," the OC said. "He goes out there and knows exactly what to do. He just makes big play after big play."
The hands out of the backfield also are impressive.
Mark of Maturity
Last but hardly least is Sanchez. He remains a work in progress. His first-quarter and first-down passer rating is stuck in the 60s and he's directed two touchdowns in his last 53 first-quarter drives (vs. Jacksonville and at Oakland this year) dating to that Week 4 Buffalo game last year.
Yet with San Diego he's coming off the best third-down passing game of his career (9-for-11, 95 yards, two Burress TDs, 142.2 rating), he's thrown no fourth-quarter interceptions since Week 16 at Chicago last year, and the Chargers were the seventh fourth-quarter comeback victory of his career.
"Definitely you can see the maturity," Schottenheimer said. "Against San Diego in the red zone, two of the three TDs were on third down. One was an isolation to Plax, and the other one was a second progression. He came off of Dustin when we went empty and found Plax on the end line.
"Those are things he probably would've been late to the first couple of years, but he saw the isolation and took it, then he saw they doubled Dustin and he came right to Plax. That's a quarterback maturing. He's still a younger player but, boy, he's really been making great strides taking care of the football and then obviously getting touchdowns and not interceptions."
The proof as always is in the pudding and the proof of this offense will be in putting sevens and threes on the board with more regularity over the final nine games. But the offense is feeling a good vibe as it continues to rest up this week for the big push toward the postseason.
"We feel really good where we are," Schottenheimer said. "We're finding our stride right now and that's what we're excited about."