For a team advertised as a ground and pound offense, the Jets sure can throw the ball.
From their version of the spread offense to the Wildcat, New York's success in moving the chains has been predicated on a balanced offensive scheme that has the defense guessing at what is coming next. And the return of Santonio Holmes Monday night from a league mandated four-game suspension only adds to the firepower offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has at his disposal.
"They already do a nice job of running the football. Jerricho Cotchery is a good player and Braylon Edwards is a very good player," Vikings head coach Brad Childress said. "The more weapons they have, the more variables. They have a very good tight end. I think he gives them more of those explosive components. He' a good player in his own right."
The Jets have a feeling Childress might know that tight end's name come Tuesday. Dustin Keller gives quarterback Mark Sanchez an option over the middle and a big target to hit on third down. Factor in a running game similar to last year's philosophy that led the league in rushing attempts and yards on the ground, not to mention an explosive pass-catcher out of the backfield in LaDainian Tomlinson and the predictable Jets offense of a year ago is now far more dynamic.
Last year, it was the rushing game that set up the passing game. Now it's flipped.
So far, the Jets are rushing for 5.1 yards per carry with Tomlinson leading the team in rushing attempts and yards gained through the first four games.
Childress and the Vikings were finalists along with New York to sign the former San Diego running back until Tomlinson chose to be re-united with Schottenheimer, who coached L.T. when he was on the staff in San Diego. The Vikings coach said he obviously wasn't one of those who bought that Tomlinson, now in his 10th year in the league and coming off an injury-riddled 2009, was a washed up commodity.
"I thought he was still a pretty good talent. Live-legged. I know they are changing it up with Shonn Greene a little bit," Childress said. "He's got football instincts and he's still got the physical wherewithal to be able to make you miss and he's quick enough to square around the corner and run between tackles."
As for Sanchez, Rex Ryan simply tells his quarterback that "whoever is open, throw it to him." But even with the return of Holmes this week and the emergence of Keller, not to mention the recent dependability of Edwards, Ryan envisions the Jets continuing to be a ground and pound type of team.
"I always prefer to run the ball more. I like racking up those rushing attempts in the fourth quarter. If you can run the ball a ton in that fourth quarter, that says a lot about your team," Ryan said last week. "We haven't really been there. I prefer a little more rushing than passing. The great thing is, we're not waiting on a mistake, we're waiting on a play."
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