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Thread: “you can win in the regular season that way, which is the way the Jets are doing it"

  1. #1
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    “you can win in the regular season that way, which is the way the Jets are doing it"

    “You come to the conclusion, if I have a choice between a mediocre passing game or a running game that pounds away, I’ll take the running game anytime. I don’t believe you can win that way in the playoffs. But you can win in the regular season that way, which is essentially what the Jets are doing.”

    The Fifth Down, New York Times.

    Discuss ....


    The Giants had finished the first practice of training camp this summer when Coach Tom Coughlin, in a moment that might have seemed to come out of the mid-1970s, announced his hopes for the new season.

    “We definitely have got to rush the ball better,” he said. “The balance factor has always been something we’ve been able to count on. We’ve got to get back to that.”

    It was a rudimentary bit of coaching philosophy that raised one question. Why?

    The Giants were the perfect champions for the 2011 season: the team with the lowest-ranked running game in the N.F.L. won the Super Bowl after a season in which the run was subjugated more than ever. Three quarterbacks — Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees and Tom Brady — each passed for more than 5,000 yards last season. Before that, there had been only two 5,000-yard passing seasons in league history. Four of the top six individual single-season passing marks — including one by Eli Manning — were set in 2011. Perhaps more telling, according to statistics kept by Pro-Football-Reference.com, teams averaged 229.7 yards passing a game last season, the most in league history and an 8-yard jump over the previous high, set in 2010. Teams averaged 34 passing attempts a game, the second most. In contrast, teams averaged 27.3 rushing attempts — tied for the second fewest since at least 1932, as far back as the Web site’s statistics go.

    With five teams preparing to start rookie quarterbacks in Week 1 — an N.F.L. season has never started with more than two rookie starting quarterbacks — the tilt toward the pass seems to be more acute than ever. It is no secret why.

    The last team with a middling quarterback and an emphasis on the running game to appear in the Super Bowl was the 2006 Chicago Bears, with Rex Grossman. The last team to win that way was the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Brad Johnson. But N.F.L. coaches are as malleable and subject to peer influence as teenagers, copying one team’s success until holes are found in that model and everybody moves on to something else. While the domination of the pass seems inexorable with every team seeking a franchise quarterback, even its biggest proponents and practitioners figure that eventually an outer limit will be reached, though it has not yet.

    “It’s very difficult, it’s not impossible, but it’s highly, highly unlikely that you’re going to find someone win a world championship without the guy at that position,” said John Elway, the Denver Broncos’ executive vice president for football operations, who signaled his philosophy by wooing Peyton Manning to Denver and dumping Tim Tebow, who led a run-centered offense into the playoffs last season.

    “Everything cycles in the N.F.L., and what that next cycle is, who knows,” Elway said. “Unless there are rules changes, I don’t see people backing down. Because of the rules and the attitude, the running game is a little less important.”

    That is exacerbated by the booming popularity of the spread offense in college and high school, positioning the talent pool in the next generation to be pass-intensive, too. When the former quarterback Rich Gannon was in high school in the early 1980s, he was lucky if he threw the ball 25 times a game, he said. Now, when he watches a high school game, offenses are operating in spread formations, with the quarterback in the shotgun. If a scout tries to unearth a fullback in college, he comes up empty because fullbacks are not used in college football anymore. Offensive linemen are steeped in pass protection from an early age, but some need remedial work in run blocking when they arrive in the N.F.L. That merely reinforces the shift that N.F.L. teams have made.

    Still, this off-season saw a flurry of big-money contracts for running backs. The Bears’ Matt Forte and the Texans’ Arian Foster received new deals, following Adrian Peterson’s blockbuster contract from Minnesota last year. Forte and Foster are skilled receivers out of the backfield, too. But Maurice Jones-Drew wants a new contract in Jacksonville, and ownership there has so far refused. That is perhaps because last season, in which Jones-Drew ran for 1,606 yards and the Jaguars had the sixth-ranked defense in the league, the Jaguars won just five games, underscoring the importance of having a good quarterback.

    As a result, the running game seems likely to become a small part of the offense for every team that does not have a player like Peterson, or that does not have a defense as good as the San Francisco 49ers did last season. The 49ers rushed more often than they threw last season, unusual for a championship-caliber team today. They were second in points allowed and first in rushing yardage. Their passing offense ranked 16th in yardage. But quarterback Alex Smith avoided mistakes, throwing only five interceptions. For the 49ers, the run was the fulcrum of their offense. Most other Super Bowl contenders, though, use it as a complement, to use up the clock late in games when they have a lead, to convert on third-and-short, to avoid turnovers in bad weather and to score touchdowns in goal-line situations, when the action is so compressed that throwing is riskier. The most important function of the running game for most teams has become to set up play-action fakes.

    But for the handful of teams that do not have a dominant quarterback — like the 49ers and the Jets — the run has become the stopgap option.

    “If you don’t have Peyton Manning or somebody who is a reasonably good passer, it’s very difficult not to turn the ball over,” said the Colts’ former president Bill Polian, who is now an ESPN analyst. “You come to the conclusion, if I have a choice between a mediocre passing game or a running game that pounds away, I’ll take the running game anytime. I don’t believe you can win that way in the playoffs. But you can win in the regular season that way, which is essentially what the Jets are doing.”

    Gannon is an advocate for balance, even for teams with the best quarterbacks. In 2000, the Oakland Raiders, with Gannon, had the top running game in the league and the 15th-ranked passing game, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. By 2002, they were the top passing offense in the league, but the run offense slid to 18th in yards rushing and 23rd in rushing attempts. Tampa Bay knew that, and in the Super Bowl, when the Raiders could not run, the Buccaneers teed off on Gannon, sacking him five times and intercepting him five times.

    “We threw it way too much,” Gannon said. “We knew it was going to bite us, and it did. You get behind and have to throw, and bad things happen. I really think the good teams have a combination.”

    That is what the Houston Texans had last season, and it sustained them when quarterback Matt Schaub, off to an excellent start, was lost for the season after 10 games and his backup, Matt Leinart, was hurt in his first start, forcing the Texans to turn to the third-stringer T. J. Yates. The running back twosome of Foster and Ben Tate led the Texans to the second-ranked rushing offense in the league with the most rushing attempts. The Texans made it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history that way, and they won a game.

    But like the 49ers, they did not get to the Super Bowl; both teams were beaten by opponents with superior quarterback play. Still, Foster falls back on a bit of throwback wisdom to explain what he thinks football of the future will look like.

    “You have to run the ball and play defense — look at the Super Bowl champs,” Foster said.

    Except, it was pointed out to him, the Giants did not run well last season and won anyway. Perhaps, then, it is time for an edit of the football axioms.

    “I can’t say that,” Foster said, laughing. “I’m a running back.”

  2. #2
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    One of our issues with being a running team is that we don't seem to understand that you don't run in certain situations or in certain spots. 3rd and 11? Don't run. A pile of linemen in front of you? Don't run straight into them.

  3. #3
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    Apparantly you can't win in the preseason this way either.

  4. #4
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    What I think many people seem to miss, is that going to a run heavy offense in a pass happy league has it's benefits.

    1) Our defense isn't impacted by it whatsoever, so we are more than capable of having a defense that is built to stop the pass. (which I believe we have shown in the past, that we do.)

    2) Other teams defenses are also built primarily to stop the pass.....so they have constructed smaller, faster secondaries, that aren't as effective as defenses we used to see in the past, at stopping the run.....especially at the second level, and that's something we can capitalize on.

    3) With more and more teams shying away from the run, it makes their play action plays less effective as teams won't bite.......conversely when they play us, they have to respect the run, enabling our play action plays to have more legitimacy to them, and causing safeties to bite on them more often.

    4) D-lines will be focusing more and more of getting to the QB, and not focusing on the run......again, this plays to our advantage.



    This isn't to say that going to a more run heavy offense in this day and age is necessarily the smartest tactic (particularly given how much recent rule changes have made the passing game far more effective than it ever was before).....but having said that, I think a lot of people (media in particular) seem to gloss over the significant advantages that going against the grain can provide.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by McGinley View Post
    One of our issues with being a running team is that we don't seem to understand that you don't run in certain situations or in certain spots. 3rd and 11? Don't run. A pile of linemen in front of you? Don't run straight into them.
    There is always apile of lineman, especially when the lineman can't block.

  6. #6
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    Well if last season is any indication of what the team likes doing, they're throwing it more than passing it and not running it with much efficiency.

    Let's hope they find an identity this year and can successfully implement the plan. And let's hope if that plan is to run the ball, they can create some sort of push up front because the OL was getting man handled all pre-season.

    As far as the premise of this article goes, which if I'm reading correctly, says you can run and win regular season games but teams that pass well win in the playoffs.... I completely agree.

    In today's NFL, the rules are catered to the passing game, and unless you have a potent passing attack, you will likely lose to a team that does. Also, teams who pass well tend to run the ball effectively because the defense can't stack the box... which is why I think it's very silly to commit to the "ground and pound" and make it known you want to run the ball... defenses are usually prepared for that sort of thing.

  7. #7
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    Too long to read... I need the cliff notes and some pictures.

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