The “Ground and Pound” isn’t sound.
After churning out a combined 146 rushing yards in their first two games, the knee jerk reaction around the Jets is that something is seriously wrong with their “Ground and Pound” offense.
So far, the Jets running game has looked nothing like the offense that finished atop the AFC East — and fourth in the conference — in rushing last year.
There’s no reason for too much concern quite yet.
“I think we’re close. I think we are. I think we’re getting better each week, and quite honestly, when you go back and really look at it, it’s not like we’re humming on all cylinders to start the season,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “We get a little bit better each week and we then finally find our groove. Our confidence in our running game will take off.”
Jets lineman Matt Slauson said after the Week 1 comeback win over Dallas that they were surprised at how the Cowboys stacked the box against them. Then on Sunday, the Jets played a Jacksonville team that held Pro-Bowl running back Chris Johnson to just 2.4 yards per carry the week before. A perfect storm was brewing against the Jets ground game.
“Sometimes a staple of a team [like] Jacksonville is the way they run the football and they stop the run,” Ryan said. “So regardless of how many guys they have down there, that’s who Jacksonville was. So I thought we did run it more efficiently this week than we had last week.”
Perhaps the emphasis on the ground game isn’t as crucial this season as last year, especially with the maturation of quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is throwing for 111.5 more yards per game through the first two games this year compared to last year, which more than compensates for the deficiencies in the ground game.
With wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason added to this year’s team, the targets for Sanchez are far more attractive this time around.
“I’ll take winning by 29; I’ll take winning by one, so I wasn’t disappointed in the way we ran the ball or did anything offensively,” Ryan said. “I thought we did a great job in all phases of the game.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for team news all week long.