But for the Jets, our ground assault — both running it and stopping opponents from running it — remains important. We're not talking Ground & Pound, but rather a way to get our heads above water and the .500 mark as we head down the homestretch toward what it is we don't know.
The run defense we're all aware of. Holding the Bills to 68 yards on 38 carries (and Fred Jackson to 12-for-34 and C.J. Spiller to 13-for-6) should have been a fine foundation to beating the Bills on Sunday.
It wasn't, of course, because giveaways led directly to seven Buffalo return points and to ridiculously short fields for 10 more offensive points. But although the pass rush wasn't effective and our downfield coverage had some big holes, sitting on opponents' ground games still is the surest bet toward getting after their QBs.
The Jets remain No. 1 in both yards allowed/game and yards allowed/carry. In fact, the 2.94 yards per carry allowed, if it can be maintained over the final six weeks of the regular season, would shatter our franchise record of 3.14 set in 1970.
"We’re probably playing as good a run defense as has been played in the league in a long time. That’s the positive," Rex Ryan said Monday. And he's right. That 2.94 figure, for instance, if it holds up, would be the best in the NFL since Baltimore's 2007 defense allowed 2.84 per pop (Ryan, defensive coordinator) and Minnesota's 2006 defense gave up 2.83 per tote (Karl Dunbar, defensive line coach). What a coincidence.
In our five wins, we've averaged 153 rushing yards per game. In the five losses, 106 per game. What better way to limit the damage of Joe Flacco-to-Torrey Smith, Cam Newton-to-Steve Smith and Ryan Tannehill-to-Mike Wallace in the coming weeks than by limiting their time on the field.
"I think we’re closer than we think, than it looks like, certainly," Rex said. "But it’s still going to take work to get it to where it should be. I’m confident we will fix it."
Reuland KO'd for the Season
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