Alan Faneca has heard Rex Ryan talk about his "ground and pound" offensively philosophy and the veteran left guard is a fan of the trench warfare approach.
"I love it. Put it on our back and let us prove you wrong," Faneca told newyorkjets.com this week. "Offensive linemen all over, we relish that and that's what we love. We love to play that kind of ball and if Rex Ryan is going to put it on our back, we're going to carry it."
Faneca, who's started eight consecutive Pro Bowls and is a six-time Associated Press All-Pro choice, reflected on his Steelers days when talking about Ryan.
"He brings a great attitude to the team. Being with Coach [Bill] Cowher for those years, I am a firm believer that your head coach kind of brings your attitude to your team," he said. "No matter how many guys you've got on your team, your head coach sets the tone for everything every day, as often as they're up in front of the guys talking."
The 6'5", 305-pound Faneca played and started in 11 postseason games with the Steelers, including the 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, a game that got Cowher his elusive ring. And Ryan, at his introductory news conference as the Jets' new head coach in January, talked about wanting to meet the President himself.
"They go about it in a different way, but they both appreciate playing with a fire," Faneca said. "That's probably high on both of their list as far as Xs and Os. Firing out and hitting somebody is just as important as getting the job done right and playing smashmouth football. I think they're both similar in that regard."
When the Jets aren't playing smashmouth, they will place the ball in the hands of a young quarterback. Kellen Clemens, although in his fourth season, has started just eight career games, and Mark Sanchez, the No. 5 overall selection in April's draft, is only a couple of months removed from college. But fortunately, the Green & White promise to have one of the finest offensive line units in the NFL protecting up front.
"Both guys, we want to go out there and do our job and let their job be as easy as possible, and that's part of what we do," Faneca said. "The better we do it, the more efficient we do it. And if we can keep a guy a half yard further away, that makes it a whole lot easier. It's only a half yard, but that half yard is big when you're talking about football and you have a 300-pound guy trying to get to you."
Faneca, who signed with Jets prior to the 2008 season, is in a better spot mentally than he was last summer. That's because he's no longer a new face in a new system. The Jets may have changed head coaches, but offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, line coach Bill Callahan and each of Faneca's four starting linemates — LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore and RT Damien Woody — all have returned.
"I'm much more comfortable with the playbook, what we're doing and playing with the guys next to me," he said. "Every single play is not an ongoing process of computing information and seeing what the defense has got and then at the last second, 'OK, that's what I'm going to do.' You're so much further ahead after being in a system for a year."
Under Ryan, the Jets have become a confident, loose bunch and are also not shy to voice their opinions. The 32-year-old Faneca, who's started an impressive 112 consecutive games, is not ready, though, to make any O-line predictions.
"I think offensive lines are proven in November, December and January. I think everything isn't proven until the end of the year. You can tell who had the best O-line then," he said. "You can be good now and not get it done down the stretch and that's all that matters. Late in the year you have to be able to run the ball, you have to be able to do that with the offensive line and that's the time that makes and breaks you."