The New York Jets knew that in order for them to have a chance against the New England Patriots, they had to be able to run the ball. The rushing attack was completely ineffective in Week 1, and it was an absolute must that it improve for Week 2. The Jets found a way, and while the run game was certainly not anything special, it was huge improvement.
Chris Ivory tallied 12 carries for 52 yards while Bilal Powell had 13 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. That is far better production than the two came up with in Week 1, and both players were critical in sustaining drives and converting third downs. The Jets need a strong run game to take the pressure off of Geno Smith, and they are starting to look like they’ve figured it out.
Ivory was brought in to be a bruising, workhorse back, and he showed signs of being that player last night. Ivory was rarely brought down by the first tackler, and he consistently picked up 4 or 5 yards between the tackles. Ivory is not an explosive player, and he isn’t going to break big runs. However, a good run game is based around the kind of consistent production that Ivory provided.
Powell has a little more speed and agility than Ivory, and he was able to find some space outside on stretch plays. Powell also was very good in pass protection and solid as a receiver. He is looking like a solid third down back for the Jets.
The offensive line was also much better in the run game. Willie Colon and Austin Howard stood out in particular, and they repeatedly opened running lanes on the right side. Vladimir Ducasse and Nick Mangold also deserve credit for their handling of Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who is the best in the business at that position. They were able to control the point of attack and allow the backs to reach the second level.
Going forward, the Jets need to commit to giving Ivory more carries. He is the type of back who wears defenses down, and he should be getting 20 carries a game. With Ivory forcing defenses to commit to stopping the run, Smith’s life will be much easier.
The Jets only have to go two more games without Mike Goodson, and his return should boost the run game even more. Goodson brings the type of explosive, breakaway threat that the Jets are currently lacking, and he will give the team a dynamic presence in the backfield.
All in all, the run game looked much better against the Patriots, and continued improvement in this area will help to make the Jets offense more balanced and more effective.