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Silverman: Jets Must Have The Guts To Go Back To The Ground Game

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

One of the biggest problems in the NFL is the lack of original thinking.

More so than in any of the other pro sports.

When a team is successful in professional football, there is a tendency for competitors to copy what opponents have done and try to improve on it.

Rather than come up with an original concept, it seems like many leaders tend to play it safe and try to re-work an idea that has won previous championships.

The most notable change in philosophy over the last 10 years in the NFL has been the absolute domination of the passing game over the running game. The passing game really came into its own during Bill Walsh’s heyday in the 1980s with the San Francisco 49ers, but the passing games exhibited by the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints is far beyond anything that Bill Walsh ever dreamed of using.

The Packers won the Super Bowl two years ago. The Saints won the Super Bowl following the 2009 regular season. The Patriots got to the Super Bowl last year and have won three Super Bowl titles in the Bill Belichick era.

So, because of that success, the belief around the league is that you have to have a dynamic passing game to win.

But what if you don’t have those kind of weapons on your roster?

What if you are the New York Jets and you have two quarterbacks who are struggling and your receiving crew is unimpressive? You can’t try to keep up with Brees and Rodgers.

You need to think for yourself and change the way you do business.

That much should be clear to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who watched his team play its third straight preseason game without scoring a touchdown. The Jets dropped a 17-12 decision to Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers last night.

It’s preseason and it’s not the end of the world, but there’s no way that Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow will ever play the kind of game that Brady and Brees play on a regular basis. Ryan has to know this in his heart and so does coach Meatball, a/k/a offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.

During Ryan’s first season as head coach, the Jets ran the ball nearly 60 percent of the time. That figure has gone down each of the last two seasons and the Jets’ offense has become less effective.

The Jets don’t throw the ball well and they will never throw it as a well as the best teams in the league. They simply don’t have the talent.

But they are built to run the ball. Shonn Greene is a hard-nosed running back who can take a pounding and still be a productive back in the fourth quarter. There are not a lot of those kind of running backs around anymore.

Ryan and coach Meatball need to channel their inner Neanderthal and ride this stud running back and give him 30 carries or more.

This is not the way the modern game is played, but when Sanchez or Tebow drop back and throw the football, bad things happen to the Jets.

They will throw the ball this year, but that should not be the bread-and-butter of their offense.

The Jets have to realize who they are and pound the rock.

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith once said that his team comes off the bus running. The Bears are not that kind of team any more with Jay Cutler at quarterback and Brandon Marshall catching the ball, but the Jets are.

Not only should they acknowledge it, they should be proud of it. It is their personality and when you have a center like Nick Mangold, a guard like Matt Slauson and a tackle like D’Brickashaw Ferguson, you have the building blocks of a great running game.

When you have quarterbacks like Sanchez and Tebow and a group of non-descript receivers, the passing game can only be subpar.

Passing teams can light up the scoreboard and they have an advantage over running teams. However, the Jets would have a legitimate chance. When you have a running game, it’s about playing dominant defense, getting an early lead and punishing your opponent.

That’s something the Jets could do. Ryan needs the guts to do what comes naturally and go against the NFL grain.

Should Rex Ryan and the New York Jets start to rely on the running game to carry the team to a win? Let us know below in the comments section.