Jets Podcast


Foundation for Rushing Down Homestretch

Posted Nov 19, 2013

A long time ago, earlier this millennium, running the ball was an important part of an NFL attack. Things are different now, of course, with pass-happy quarterbacks and offenses torching beleaguered secondaries every other play.

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.

Our run offense, meanwhile, isn't at those lofty heights. On the other hand, it is eighth in the league, its highest ranking in eight weeks. Even with a sluggish day against Buffalo before Chris Ivory's 69-yarder, the run has been a key. Bilal Powell's crisp cuts kept us in control in Week 3 against Buffalo, while Ivory's bullish brawniness (or is it brawny bullishness?) was perhaps the biggest factor in the wins over New England and New Orleans.

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."

Fix Geno Smith's giveaways and the secondary's longball issues and keep the run games right where they are, and that should give us the best chance to see if Rex is right.

Reuland KO'd for the Season

We placed TE Konrad Reuland on injured reserve today with a knee injury. That's a tough one for the thoughtful, earnest young man from Stanford and Southern California to absorb, but he'll be back. He had just one reception for 7 yards this season, in the opener vs. Tampa Bay, and was in for just less than four offensive plays a game, but he totaled 186 special teams snaps, fifth on the team.

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