Jets running game struggling early

Despite having started last season with two straight wins, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is convinced that his offense, and in particular the ground game, is off to a stronger start this year.

According to Ryan, the rather mediocre rushing numbers are ahead of where the Jets were a season ago when the much touted “ground and pound” was cast aside in favor of the passing game.

“I think we’re doing a better job at blocking down field than we did last year. I think we’re getting more movement than we did last year,” Ryan said. “We did run the ball pretty efficiently in really both of the games, so I think we’re ahead of where we were last year at this point. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

Technically, Ryan is right in his assessment that the team is rushing the ball better — but not by much.

In the two wins over the Cowboys and Jaguars to start last season, the Jets rushed the ball 48 times for 146 yards, a clip of 3.04 yards per rush. Looking at this year, in the win over the Bills and this past Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh, the Jets ran 58 rushing plays for 208 yards or 3.5 yards per carry.

That is not exactly a monumental increase, especially as the Jets are now using the Wildcat offense to help spark the ground game.

“At some standard we are ahead of what we were doing last year but me in general, I think I can do a lot better,” running back Shonn Greene said. “The offensive line is doing great, but there’s little things we need to clean up.”

The bulk of the rushes will fall to Greene, who has 38 of the Jets’ 58 rushing attempts this year and his 117 rushing yards account for 56 percent of the total rushing yards. The numbers aren’t terribly impressive for the Jets’ “bell cow,” but given that he rushed for 75 yards in the two first two games of 2011, Greene is seeing some improvement in how the team is running the ball.

And he sees it only getting better.

“I got to start breaking more tackles. [I] need to break off more long runs. For me, [it is] just being consistent with our reads, making sure we make the right reads and those two things need to take off and I think they will really soon,” Greene said. “We have three Pro Bowlers; we have three of them on the offensive line. We just got to clean up a little more and execute.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.

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