Over the first few weeks of the 2012 season, and even dating back to 2011, the “ground and pound” part of the New York Jets offense has been noticeably absent.
The Jets rushed for just 88 yards in their Week 3 win, and head coach Rex Ryan admitted that the Jets running backs were partially to blame, something that he’s rarely said publicly during his tenure as Jets head coach.
“Did I think we left some yards on the field? Absolutely,” Ryan said. “There was a chance to get the ball outside, just different things. But I would give credit to the opponent because they did an outstanding job.”
While some of that has to do with some of the strong defensive fronts the Jets have faced this season, a lot of it also has to do with the Jets’ primary running back, fourth-year man Shonn Greene.
“We’d like to get him going more,” Ryan said of Greene. “Without question we’d like to see him get that average up over 4 yards per carry. … We’ll keep working at it and hope we can get something going.”
To be fair, the Steelers and Dolphins appear to be two of the best run-stuffing defenses in the NFL so far this season. However, that hasn’t stopped backup running back Bilal Powell from performing better than Greene has.
The 23-year-old Powell is averaging a respectable 4.0 yards per carry this year, including a team-high 4.5 ypc against the same Miami team that completely bottled up Shonn Greene.
Not only has Powell looked like a faster, more elusive, and more explosive runner than Greene, but he’s also shown better skills in pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield.
Is it only a matter of time before Powell is promoted into the starting lineup, relegating Greene to the “finisher” role that has suited him more favorably in his NFL career?
“That’s certainly a possibility that we’ll look into,” Ryan said on Monday. “It’s possible. We’ll look at anything that we think can help our team. Has that been discussed? No … Is that going to happen? I don’t know.”
To the Jets’ credit, they’re not blind when it comes to their running game problems. On Tuesday they signed running back Jonathan Grimes, a 22-year-old rookie who had been on the Houston Texans practice squad.
If I’m a betting man, I think we’ll see Bilal Powell become the Jets’ starting running back sooner rather than later, with Shonn Greene relegated to a reserve role, getting his carries later in the game. Fantasy football owners, take note.
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