What the Jets needed was more bell-cow.
During the preseason, head coach Rex Ryan said that despite some flashy additions at wide receiver, this team would still be defined by the ground game and would be led by their “bell-cow” running back Shonn Greene. It has been anything but a strong start to the season for Greene or any of the Jets running backs. Coming into the game, the Jets had the No. 30 rushing offense in the league.
For a top-five rushing team last season, the Jets needed to find their groove and they did in part behind Greene’s 83 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 30-21 loss at New England.
“I was encouraged, we did some good things,” Ryan said. “I thought we got back to runs and completions. I thought we did some good things offensively there.”
It needed to be better, especially against a Patriots team suspect against the run and without injured linebacker Jerod Mayo. Greene’s carries were negatively impacted in the fourth quarter, when the Jets were down by two scores and needed to pass.
“We talked about it early in the week, trying to be a little more balanced. I thought Shonn Greene had a heck of a game. He ran the ball hard, really wore that defense out,” Tomlinson said. “We have to get better but there are things to be encouraged by. Running the ball better; moving the ball at times.”
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It wasn’t a perfect performance, but perhaps it was a glimmer of hope that the offense is returning to its balance of last year and won’t be predicated as much on quarterback Mark Sanchez making plays with his arm. The “Ground & Pound” still represents the Jets’ best chance at success this season.
A big part of the Jets’ relative success in getting the rushing offense going was the return of Nick Mangold from an ankle sprain in Week 3. Mangold’s veteran presence and communication skill-set were missed last week as the team rushed for just 38 yards.
“Our offensive line did great, an awesome job,” Greene said. “Those guys together did great, every last one of them. They were the reason why we were able to do what we did today.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.