Just call it the Burress effect.
Two weeks ago, in their Week 7 win over San Diego, the Jets had the type of offensive output they had imagined when they pieced together their offense during the offseason.
Running back Shonn Greene topped 100 yards rushing for the first time all season, quarterback Mark Sanchez made more right decisions than wrong ones and wide receiver Plaxico Burress finally got on track.
On Sunday in Buffalo, the Jets hope that Burress will open things up in the red zone for fellow wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and tight end Dustin Keller.
“I would only think going into this week that they’re not going to play me man-to-man in the red zone. All it does is open it up for Dustin, Santonio,” Burress said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how those guys play us in the red zone. We’re going to go into the red zone and call the same plays, adjust on the fly.”
That becomes the conundrum for the Bills. If you double cover Burress that leaves one of the other talented targets wide open. If you go into man-coverage Burress will make it costly as he did in Week 7.
Factor in perhaps a renewed commitment to the running game, and the rest of the receiving corps could flourish with potential match-ups favoring the Jets all over the field. But for now, Burress says it is “a work in progress” in terms of getting back to football shape and becoming the kind of player he thinks he can be. It is easy to forget looking at him on the field two weeks ago that he spent the past two years in prison.
“When we brought him in, we never expected Plax to be the same guy he was when he left the Giants. We know it’s a work in progress getting him back up,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He had been out of football for two years, but eventually we think we know where he’s going to end up and that is going to be that super receiver. When you combine him and ‘Tone’ together, that’s going to give us a pair of great receivers.”
But now, the biggest issue for Burress isn’t acclimating to the speed of the NFL after a two-year layoff, learning the playbook or getting in sync with his quarterback — it is his health. Burress was limited in practice on Thursday with a back issue.
“He did have some tightness back there, but he’s getting the heat treatment and all that kind of stuff,” Ryan said. “We don’t want to run him into the ground, we want him to be 100 percent when we play on Sunday.”
Burress did take some snaps and while he was limited in practice, he brushed it aside as nothing that will hold him back.
“I don’t really call it an injury,” Burress said. “I just call it being tight, sore.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.