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Monday, the day after the Jets were beat down in Baltimore, Rex Ryan laid into his team about their recent performance and promised a return to the “Ground & Pound” that has made the Jets such a formidable contender the past two seasons. Rex seemed calm after their loss Sunday night, but according to guard Matt Slausson, “(Sunday night) he was definitely hurt, emotionally hurt, but today he was pissed.”
A player speaking on the condition of anonymity said that Ryan was, “as angry as I’ve ever seen him.” Ryan told the team they need to get their identity back, which for the Jets means running the ball and playing smashmouth in your face football. The Jets the past two seasons have built their reputation as one of the most prolific running teams in the NFL.
This season has been a different story as they’ve gotten away from that and become a pass happy team. That pass happy mentality backfired badly against the Ravens. The blitzes put Sanchez under heavy pressure all game causing him to commit four turnovers and take 10 QB hits.
The Jets rushed for 38 yards against the Ravens, which is a season-low. “We have to be able to run the football better than we’re running it, there’s no question about that,” Ryan said. “Maybe we’re built differently than other teams. We can get a lot of (passing) yards and all that stuff, but we want to get wins.”
The Jets problems are stemming from the lack of offensive line play. For years this has been the strength of the team but it is beginning to show signs of deterioration. They were playing bad before All-Pro center Nick Mangold went down and has missed three games with a high-ankle sprain. The team is hopeful he can play against he Patriots on Sunday.
The only new starter is right tackle Wayne Hunter, who was a backup so the drop off is somewhat shocking for the team and its fans. The Jets average 71 rushing yards per game which is good for 30th in the league compared to a year ago when their average was 148.4.
Ryan hasn’t blamed RB Shonn Greene, who was named the “bell-cow” running back this year. So far he has 157 yards and 3.1 average, which is the lowest per-carry mark among the top 40 rushers in the league. However, Ryan has no plans to reduce his role and feature LT more.
“Shoot, no,” he said. “How ’bout we give Shonn Greene a chance?”
However, Ryan is partial to second-year back Joe McKnight out of USC, who has been impressing coaches with his special teams play. He forced a fumble on Sunday nights opening kick-off and returned a kick 107 yards for a touchdown. He was also in on defense, causing pressure on the Joe Flacco pick six.
“Concerned? Not at all,” left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson said. “We have tough skin and we’ll get it fixed.” But running the ball is a mentality, and it might be harder than the Jets think to just switch back to the way they were in 2009 and 2010. But they will try. When asked if Ground & Pound is back, Slauson smiled and said, “Absolutely. … We’re going to be back. We’re going to be back real soon.”
The Jets better hope they come back sooner than later or the Jets are in for a long season in which their franchise quarterback ends up in the ER.
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