Time to give credit where credit is due. I wrote last week that the New York Jets needed to commit to the run game, and it appears offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had a similar thought. I have been critical of Morhinweg’s overuse of the pass this season, but he got things exactly right on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets flipped their normal run/pass ratio on its head Sunday, running the ball 41 times while throwing only 29. Bilal Powell had a breakout game, rushing 27 times for 149 yards. The Jets also made use of Geno Smith’s running ability, calling a QB draw in the first quarter that he took 8 yards for a touchdown.
There were a few major benefits to the Jets’ increased ground game Sunday. First, the defensive line couldn’t pin its ears back and get after Smith, and the Bills didn’t record a single sack. Given that Smith is still learning to read defenses, the extra time to survey the field is always beneficial.
The threat of the run also forced the Bills to commit more men towards the line of scrimmage, which gave the Jets’ receivers an advantage on the outside. Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill regularly beat the man-to-man coverage they faced, and they were both on the receiving end of deep touchdown passes from Smith.
All in all, it was one of the best offensive performances the Jets have had in the last couple seasons, and it began with the commitment to the run. Powell looks like he is going to be the starter at running back for the foreseeable future, and if he can continue to produce like he did on Sunday the Jets will be in great shape.
An equally important takeaway from this game is Mornhinweg’s willingness to change his style and call a different game. He is a pass first coach and always will be, but he recognized that the run was the Jets’ best weapon and he was patient enough to stick with it. A good coach must be willing to adapt his scheme to fit his personnel and the situation they are facing, and Mornhinweg did a great job of making the necessary adjustments.
Beating up on Buffalo’s defense is not a particularly impressive accomplishment, but this game was nonetheless a big step forward for the Jets’ offense. If they can continue to build on this performance, they will become a much more well rounded football team and have the ability to prove their 2-1 start is no fluke.