The last time the Jets played with a rookie quarterback, they went to the AFC Championship game. They accomplished such a feat due to a formula that played to their strengths; a dominant defense, and an offense that controlled the clock powered by a strong running game. Although it doesn’t strictly follow Jets’ offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s philosophy, the Jets would be wise to follow that formula this season. However, in their first two games with their current rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, they have thrown the ball an alarming 74 times.
Granted, the Jets running game got off to a slow start against Tampa Bay in week one; the offensive line produced very little push up front, which left the Jets runners with very little room to work with. But, in the pouring rain in New England, the holes opened up and the running game drastically improved – the Jets rushed for 29 times for 112 yards on designed runs. However, in the second half, with a wet ball, and a victory within reach, the Jets abandoned the run and continued to put the game in the hands of their rookie quarterback, who consequently threw 3 fourth quarter interceptions and cost the Jets the game.
This weekend the Jets will host the Buffalo Bills, and a formidable pass rush coached by Rex Ryan’s prodigy Mike Pettine, and led by former first overall draft pick Mario Williams. Williams leads the league in sacks, and brought down the usually elusive Cam Newton for 4.5 times in their victory last weekend. If the Jets continue to throw the ball 30+ times a game, Williams will do more of the same to Geno Smith this weekend.
The Jets need to lean on off-season acquisition Chris Ivory, who was particularly impressive last week. He demonstrated the kind of tough power running that the Jets were hoping for when they brought him over from New Orleans, and he can be the guy to carry the Jets to victory this weekend.
“I’m starting to get a better feel for the offense,” Ivory said. “It’s a rhythm thing. Some backs can make the most out of what they get and some just need those extra touches to get in a rhythm.”
The Jets need to get Ivory in a rhythm, and get back to the formula that took them to consecutive AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010. That starts with one simple concept: Run the ball.