Conor Orr: Jets can't run from the truth, ground game coming up empty
October 02, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Jets offensive lineman Brandon Moore was up late Sunday night and couldn’t fall back asleep. He decided to pull out his computer and access the game film from that afternoon and watch as the Jets netted just 45 rushing yards on 17 carries in a 34-0 loss to the 49ers.
It was the Jets’ third consecutive game of less than 100 yards on the ground and the catalyst for another drop in the league’s rushing rankings. The Jets are 30th in the NFL in yards per carry (3.2) and 24th in yards per game (86.5).
Unfortunately, Moore admitted, he did not learn anything new from the late-night cram session.
“It’s just the same things,” Moore said Monday. “When you look back at other games and you don’t run the ball well and some things come up, it’s just a matter of execution.
“It’s a matter of us staying on our blocks longer, finishing guys, running backs knowing where to go and making the right reads and making plays. It just goes back to us being able to do these things in practice.”
The Jets (2-2) are looking for solutions this week as they prepare to play host to the powerful Houston Texans (4-0) Monday night.
A strong running game has been a hallmark in the careers of coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. It sets up the passing game and opens up the playbook. It also gives quarterback Mark Sanchez relief from a relentless rush and helps the Jets maintain possession (they are holding the ball an average of 28:17 per game, ranked 26th in the NFL).
Ryan challenged his offensive line and running backs Monday after seeing the same thing Moore saw.
“That didn’t happen (Sunday) to my satisfaction and to anybody’s satisfaction, including (the offensive line),” Ryan said of the rushing performance. “I’m sure they’ll be the first to tell you that we have to do a better job up front.”
To assist in that department, the Jets added hybrid running back/fullback Lex Hilliard to the active roster today, possibly as a stop-gap solution if fullback John Conner’s strained hamstring is serious. Wide receiver Patrick Turner was cut in a corresponding move.
In addition, receiver Jordan White was re-signed to the practice squad and defensive back Donnie Fletcher was released.
As Ryan huddled with his coaches over the past two days, he was looking for an answer. He would not address whether that meant more playing time for backup QB Tim Tebow — the Broncos had less than 150 rushing yards just once last season when he was their starting quarterback.
Running back Bilal Powell was in on the game’s first play and took a majority of the snaps — 32 to Shonn Greene’s 18.
The Jets now await a new game plan. Ryan said they needed to have an answer ready.
Moore, after watching the film, thinks he already knows.
“There’s no other answer to it,” Moore said. “There’s no magic solution that’s going to make everything click. It’s just a matter of the execution portion of it.”
Notes: Despite a report suggesting wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a foot injury, the Jets said the team would have no official update on his condition tonight.
Holmes was most recently having his MRI results reviewed by a specialist in North Carolina.
Though the Jets defense gave up 245 yards on the ground against the 49ers, defensive end Mike DeVito is not yet sounding the alarm.
“I know it seems like the end of the world,” DeVito said today on WFAN radio. “But we’re still in first place in the division. We still can come back from this, but we need to get this fixed fast.
“We just haven’t been able to put together the defense we had in training camp,” DeVito said. “We haven’t been able to get back to that.”