Jets: Running now a dream

Shonn Greene on his back is an all too familiar scene for Jets fans.

There are plenty of excuses coming from the Jets right now about their lack of a rushing game — but few answers.

In Sunday night’s 34-17 loss in Baltimore, the backfield tandem of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson along with fullback John Conner combined for just 20 yards rushing on 13 carries.

The disappearance of the running game this season has been a large part of why the Jets are losers of their last two games. The team has not produced a 100-yard rusher this season. The lack of a ground game — statistically the third worst in the league — is a big reason why the Jets are No. 25 in total offense this season. The Jets point to falling behind on Sunday as a big reason why they couldn’t run the ball. Yet, the Jets held a lead in Week 2 and Week 3 and still didn’t run the ball effectively.

“It doesn’t help when you’re behind, which we’ve talked about before. That obviously is part of the problem, but we just have to get better overall. We have to be better at blocking on the perimeter, we have to get better at handling the inside things, handling the blitzes, the stunts and things like that,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “We have to get a heck of a lot better here. We’re a team that prides itself on running the football, being able to run and we haven’t been successful so far.”

For Ryan, known for his overstatements and hyperbole, terming the Jets’ ground game as not “successful so far” is an understatement of extreme disproportions. The “Ground and Pound” term Ryan coined two years ago to define the rush heavy offense is totally unhinged.

The Jets are not running the ball as much as last year. Their 23 carries per game are down nearly 10 carries from last year. And the 71 yards per game average this season is half of what the team averaged in 2010 when they had the fourth-best rushing attack in the league. The inability to consistently run the ball and get positive yardage is a big reason why the Jets are in the bottom third in time of possession.

“Whenever we have problems like that, it’s always important to find the answer for them. Sometimes it’s not a big problem at all, it’s just blown communication,” left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson said. “That can sometimes cause things like that. We’ll go over these things. We had our meetings. We watched the film, so we’re just trying to clean that up.”
 
But right now, that leaves the Jets as a team that relies on quarterback Mark Sanchez to move the ball effectively, something he hasn’t done consistently.

For four straight weeks, defenses have stacked the box to try and force Sanchez to beat them in the air. The Jets’ 2-2 mark is testament to how effective this strategy can be.

“That’s why you have to be able to run the football. We have to be able to run the football better than we’re running it. There’s no doubt about that,” Ryan said. “We’re may be built differently than other teams, but we can get yards and all that kind of stuff, but we want to get wins and we have to run it better.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



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