Shonn Greene finally gets Jets’ ground-and-pound attack working
Like a blurry video of Big Foot or a long-distance shot of the Lochness Monster, we caught a glimpse of the Jets’ mythical “Ground and Pound” offense on Sunday.
Try as they might, Rex Ryan’s Jets had not been able to establish the ball-control, smash-mouth attack they coveted through the first five weeks of the season. A visit from the Colts’ shaky run defense and the reemergence of Shonn Greene helped change that, for at least one Sunday. All told, New York ran the ball for 253 yards.
The Jets set the tone for the rest of their 35-9 win over Indianapolis ([si_launchNFLPopup video='22e8cae552f145a3a2a0c52dd20e71db']Highlights[/si_launchNFLPopup]) with their first scoring drive. After taking over at their own 20 with 6:02 left in the first quarter, New York embarked on a 14-play, seven-minute drive that ended with a Mark Sanchez-to-Stephen Hill touchdown pass.
Greene was the workhorse on that drive, carrying the ball six times for 43 yards en route to a 161-yard day.
The Jets also put Indianapolis back on its heels with a mix-and-match, balanced attack on that first TD march. Tim Tebow, Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell all also had carries on the drive, totaling 14 yards; Sanchez opened the possession with 9-yard pass to Jeremy Kerley, then later hit Hill for nine on 3rd-and-8.
The Jets went on to score touchdowns on their next two possessions, too. Greene rumbled in from 10 yards out on the first, then Sanchez found Jason Hill for a 5-yard score on the second — but only after Greene got the ball rolling by picking up 25 yards rushing on the Jets’ first two plays.
Greene added a 4-yard TD run in the third quarter, which came only after McKnight broke free for a 61-yard run, and he found the end zone yet again late.
For all their issues, the Jets are now 3-3 and have a chance to regain first place in the AFC East next week at New England. They won’t be able to pull off a win there without a similar effort on the ground, so was Sunday a breakthrough or an aberration?
The evidence points to the latter. The Jets have topped 100 yards rushing on the ground twice this season — against the Bills and Colts, who entered Week 6 ranked 30th and 26th, respectively, in yards-per-game allowed on the ground.
Miami, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston all held the Jets to double-digit numbers on the ground … and the Patriots are a top-10 defense against the run right now.
The key (no, not Tebow) is Greene. A run game can only be as good as its offensive line, of course, but Greene has struggled to make things happen even when space is there.
He started to come around ever so slightly against the Texans last week, running hard for a couple of nice gains in the second half. Greene carried that little bit of momentum into Sunday, and the Colts did nothing to slow him (or any other Jets running back) down.
Can the Patriots return the Jets to their underachieving ways? If not, New York might have finally found a way to flip the switch on its offense.