The Jets brought in running back Thomas Jones in the off-season with one objective in mind: to spearhead the ground attack as their feature back. Unfortunately, the Jets running game as a whole has yet to break loose; but that doesn't intimidate Jones the least bit.
"We've been in situations where we've had to throw the ball and we haven't been able to run the ball as much. Every game is different," said Jones this afternoon in front of his locker the day after the Jets' 35-24 loss to the Giants. "Obviously, when you're throwing the ball, it's going to take away some of the runs. We're doing the best we can to get it straightened out and I have the confidence that we will."
Throughout his career, Jones has seen a very fair share of rushing attempts in this league — 1,437 to be exact. This season he has just 88 rushing attempts compared to 105 in the first five games of the 2006 regular season. The lack of touches is simply the end result of individual game plans, not a lack of effort or performance.
"It's not a function of trying to move away from him," head coach Eric Mangini said at his afternoon news conference. "You're always looking to be balanced offensively. Some situations we've been in here earlier dictated that you had to go to more of a passing type of attack."
The veteran who helped carry the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl last season knows exactly what the next step is and doesn't plan on panicking anytime soon.
"This is my eighth year in the league," Jones said. "I've been around for a while and have seen a lot of different things. The major thing that I have learned is to stay the course and that's what I'm doing."
While Jets Nation is clearly disgruntled with its team starting off with a 1-4 record, Jones is optimistic the team can turn it around.
"I think everyone is obviously frustrated when things aren't going the way you want them to go — that's just human nature," he said. "You're frustrated, but at the same time you understand that it's a long season and there's a lot more football left to play."
Jones had what seemed to be a breakthrough performance in the Week 3 win over Miami when he rushed for 110 yards on 25 rushes — both season highs. The last time Jones broke 100 yards was in the 29-17 loss to Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLI, when he rushed for a team-high 112 yards on 15 attempts.
After his big day against the Dolphins, Jones ran for just 35 rushing yards on 12 attempts in the loss at Buffalo and 36 yards on 13 carries vs. the Giants.
That's where the problem stands for Jones. The number of attempts he has each game are minuscule in importance in comparison to the outcome of the contests.
"I'm here to play football," he explained. "As far as the number of carries I have per week, that's up to the coaches and the game plan. My job is not to call the plays, my job is not to set the game plan for the week. My job is to play my role."
For the Jets offense, there's no defining answer as to where the problem lies within the running game in the last two weeks. Whether it is from a possible slow development of chemistry between him and the offensive line or from a lack of open running lanes or a combination of both, Jones believes the problem can be fixed.
"We are trying to develop chemistry, develop a nucleus as far as the running game's concerned and we're working hard every week to get to where we need to be," he said. "We have a lot of guys on this team that are playmakers and that are dedicated to getting this thing turned around. That's what we're going to work on this week."
"The running game, sometimes it's not going to be pretty. It might be ugly for a while and all of a sudden it pops," he added. "Unfortunately we haven't been able to get into that mode or that rhythm. Each game is different and at the end of the day you're trying to win the football game regardless of how."