If you haven’t noticed yet, Turn On The Jets has a new title after our name: “Ground and Pound Writing”…so clever and original, right? The reasoning is that for years the Jets were a franchise without an identity, outside of being the ugly stepchild of New York football. Fortunately with Rex Ryan has came the identity of the Ground and Pound, which is the Jets are going to be a physical football team led by their defense and rushing attack. This brand of football has carried the Jets to back to back AFC Championship Games and pulled them from irrelevancy to a national team, who will have five prime-time games this season.
Let’s take a closer look at the “ground” half of the equation in 2010. After losing Thomas Jones to free agency and trading away Leon Washington, the Jets worked a two back approach, with LaDainian Tomlinson as the primary ballcarrier and Shonn Greene as the supporting back. Here is a breakdown of their numbers (averages out of 15 games, since both were inactive in week 17)
- 219 carries
- 914 yards
- 4.2 yards per carry
- 6 rushing touchdowns
- 14.6 carries per game
- 60.9 yards per game
- 185 carries
- 766 yards
- 4.1 yards per carry
- 2 rushing touchdowns
- 12.3 carries per game
- 51 yards per game
As a pair the duo combined for about 27 carries and 111 yards per game, along with a touchdown every other week. It is worth noting Brad Smith served as the de facto 3rd back, with 38 carries for 299 yards, although most of those came out of the Wildcat formation.
Compared to 2009, when they had the league’s top rushing attack, the Jets ran 73 less times for 382 less yards, along with 7 less rushing touchdowns and fell to third in the NFL in rushing yards per game. It is hard to complain about being ranked in the top three, especially with the following factors in play –
- A more open offense to accommodate an improved Mark Sanchez and the addition of Santonio Holmes
- Replacing Alan Faneca with Matt Slauson…Slauson was better than expected in his first year as a starter but still has a ways to go before he is on Faneca’s level, especially in run blocking.
- Damien Woody missing time late in the season.
- The lack of a true number one back, don’t forget Thomas Jones ran for over 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009.
It will be interesting to see if the Jets can approach their 2009 production in the running game this season. Slauson will be a year better. The Jets will likely be losing one of their starting receivers, which could limit how open their offense will be. Obviously, the biggest factor will be how Shonn Greene handles the starting role and if he can be the type of back Jones was in 2009, while Tomlinson supports as a third down back. Look for Joe McKnight to compensate for the yards left behind by Brad Smith, who will probably be signing with a different team.