It was only two weeks ago that the Jets racked up 435 yards of total offense in a loss to the Raiders. That performance was followed up by a 150-yard effort against the Ravens, leaving many to wonder if the offense is still trying to find its identity.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer discussed the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of the Jets' O.
"The big thing for us has been consistency," said Schottenheimer, adding that Baltimore "was the perfect storm in a sense. We had a hard time fighting through it. In this business, you can't spend a lot of time looking behind, because if you do, you have a hangover going into the next game."
The Jets can't afford to be anything less than at the top of their game heading into Sunday's divisional war with New England. The Patriots' offense hasn't suffered any identity issues this season, establishing itself as the top passing unit in the NFL.
As good as the Patriots are offensively, they rank dead last in the league in yards allowed on defense. If the Jets are to emerge from Foxboro victorious, the defensive holes of the Patriots will need to be exploited.
"It's always fun to play New England," Schottenheimer said. "The stats are what they are, and we feel good about our plan. We feel good about how our week has gone in practice. This is another quality NFL opponent."
A common theme through the first quarter of the Jets' season has been the struggling rushing attack. Their 71 yards per game ranks third from the bottom in the NFL. Schottenheimer has launched a pass-heavy attack so far this year, calling pass plays 63 percent of the time.
The pass-run ratio and the slow start for the Jets' tailbacks are focal points for Schottenheimer and his staff moving forward.
"This is the first-quarter mark of the season, and we're coming off a very poor performance," he said. "But we're not panicking. We're working."
Since head coach Rex Ryan took the reins to begin the 2009 campaign, the Jets' offensive philosophy has been dubbed "Ground and Pound." The Jets were a run-first offense, leading the NFL in rushing attempts and yards in 2009 and ranking second and fourth respectively in those categories last year.
Currently, they are 28th in rush attempts and 30th in rushing yards, leaving many to wonder what happened to Ground and Pound?
"That's always been a mentality more than a run/pass call sheet," said Schottenheimer. "It's a physical mentality. It doesn't mean we're going to run it 50 times, but it doesn't mean we're going to throw it 50 times, either."
That being said, Schottenheimer is well aware that a productive running game is essential for an offense to thrive. The last two seasons Jets runners were not only productive, they were dominant, averaging 172 yards per game in 2009 and 148 in 2010.
Can the Jets be such a dominant run team again in '11?
"Can we? Yes," replied Schottenheimer. "Will we? We'll see."
Practices Rock with Horn Section
Ryan declared after today's workout that this week's practices were "so much better than last week. I feel good about it."
Part of the reason the practices were improved was a new tactic to speed up the tempo of the offense on passing plays. A horn similar to the one that signals the end of a period of hockey or a quarter of basketball would blare at a time predetermined by quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. Some plays had a two-second time limit, some three seconds, some four.
By the time the horn sounded, the ball should be out of the quarterback's hands.
"It challenges your whole team," said Ryan, who said he recalled Bill Parcells using the same tactic. "It challenges your offensive line to defend, wide receivers have to run their routes at that speed, and the quarterback has to get rid of the football. The tempo was great, it really was."
LB Garrett McIntyre (concussion) returned to practice today but was limited and has been ruled out for Sunday's game. C Nick Mangold was also limited and is listed as questionable, but Ryan added that he "feels good about it."
The following players were full participants in today's practice, and will be listed as probable for the Patriots: WR Plaxico Burress (elbow), CB Antonio Cromartie (ribs), DT Mike DeVito (shoulder), LB David Harris (toe), OLB Calvin Pace (abdomen), S Eric Smith (triceps) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder).
The Patriots' final report of the week lists four players as doubtful for the Jets: LB Jerod Mayo (knee), RB Danny Woodhead (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (ankle) and T Sebastian Vollmer (back). Seven are questionable after limited participation in team drills today: S Josh Barrett (thumb/hamstring), CBs Leigh Bodden (groin) and Ras-I Dowling (hip), TE Aaron Hernandez (kene) and D-linemen Albert Haynesworth (back), Kyle Love (ankle) and Mike Wright (concussion). Three are probable, including former Jet Shaun Ellis (knee), and CB Kyle Arrington and LB Gary Guyton have been removed from the report.
"Hall of Fame Game"
The Jets-Patriots game is being featured this week on the Pro Football Hall of Fame site as its "Throwback Game of the Week." Click here to check out the HOF's presentation on this game.