Dyer: Jets Go Back In Time To Find Success
By Kristian Dyer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It took 14 weeks of the NFL season but the Jets finally have found and established their identity, looking every bit the part of the playoff caliber team most envisioned during preseason. Their 37-10 win over the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon was exactly the type of emphatic result Jets fans expected their team to have lots of this yea. But the style and manner of getting that win wasn’t the wide-open offense many thought would steamroll through the regular season.
Which is to say that the Jets offense of Sunday afternoon looked an awful lot like the team of the past two seasons.
It was hard-running from Shonn Greene, who used 24 carries and some steady blocking for 129 yards rushing and a touchdown. It was a quietly efficient Mark Sanchez, who limited mistakes and effectively managed the game. And it was a Jets defense that harried Kansas City to just four yards of total offense in the first half.
In other words, it was the kind of performance that carried the Jets to the AFC Championship Game last year, following a formula of “Ground & Pound,” safe offensive play-calling and a blitz-happy defense to go within one game of the Super Bowl.
Despite the Jets offseason moves, including the high-profile re-signing of Santonio Holmes and the free agent deal for Plaxico Burress, this is a team whose very foundation is not big name playmakers but rather being an overtly physical team. Consistently on Sunday afternoon, Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko was under pressure, being driven into the ground four times by the Jets pass rush and rarely looking in sync with his wide receivers. The Jets didn’t win this game via razzle dazzle or anything terribly tricky.
It was pure, smash-mouth stuff from the Jets, or what head coach Rex Ryan calls “Playing like a Jet.”
And if the Jets hope to continue their recent three-game winning streak, they need to embrace this philosophy and abandon the idea that they are anything but a pragmatic offense that must stay disciplined.
This is still a team that, despite the presence of Burress and Holmes, needs to establish the run before it can ever think about airing things out. On the first play from scrimmage on Sunday, Greene scampered for 31 yards, quickly establishing the ground game and forcing Kansas City to key-in on the run. Even with their “fast-flow” defense, the Chiefs had to be wary of Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson getting the hard yards between the tackles, forcing the defense to sneak seven and eight defenders into the box.
The Jets responded by picking their spots down the field and rolling Sanchez out of the pocket, using a variety of play action and misdirection to catch the Chiefs linebackers scrambling for position. Sanchez responded, comfortably throwing the underneath routes and systematically moving the chains.
On an afternoon where the Jets had 24 first downs, it is no surprise that they held more than a 15 minute edge in possession over their visitors. As if the defense didn’t do a good enough job of taking Kansas City out of the game, the Jets offense holding onto the ball and bullying the Chiefs around the field was enough to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.
And given the up and down results from the passing game, the Jets best hopes in making the playoffs and a shot at another postseason run remains for Sanchez to play within himself. They did that Sunday against Kansas City where he managed the game and was more concerned with good decisions rather than forcing the ball to certain wide receivers.
Now, suddenly, the Jets have found the balanced offense that they were missed for much of the season – just in time for the playoffs.
Kristian R. Dyer contributes to WFAN.com and covers the Jets beat for Metro New York. He also writes for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him at twitter.com/KristianRDyer