We're at the halfway point of the 2010 season, and it's time for the Jets to reverse the roles at RB and give Shonn Greene the lion's share of the carries. LT has been terrific, but he hasn't been the same RB the last couple of weeks. Not only do the stats bear that out, but so do the Jets' rushing numbers and their performance as a team on the whole.
The inconsistencies on the Jets offense began after their win over Minnesota. The Jets have gone 2-1 against the Broncos, Packers and Lions since that game, but each and every one of those games have been a titanic struggle. So were LT's performances.
It could be a coincidence, but after the Vikings game LT had 76 carries for 435 yds, 5.7YPC. Since the Minnesota game these are his very pedestrian numbers: 16 carries for 55 yards vs. Denver, 16 carries for 65 yards vs. GB and 15 carries for 55 yards vs. Detroit. Overall that's 47 carries for 164 yards, 3.5YPC
Those numbers look very similar to his production in the same weeks last season with SD: 18 carries for 70 yards, 23 carries for 71 yards and 18 carries for 56 yards. Overall that's 61 carries for 197 yards, 3.2YPC.
To show it's not the OL's fault, Greene's numbers in the same games were: 9 carries for 43 yards vs. Denver, 6 carries for 22 yards vs. GB and 10 carries for 46 yards vs. Detroit. Overall that's 25 carries for 111 yards, 4.5YPC,
The Jets' offensive philosophy of ground and pound didn't really take shape last season until the Jets made Greene the feature RB and Jones tired. The problem was they made the switch too late. By the time they went to Greene, Jones was shot. When Greene got hurt in the AFC title game Jones had nothing left in the tank to give them.
Make a switch now. At worst, this will keep LT fresh and may even help to rejuvenate him. LT's longest carries in the first six games were 21, 31, 21, 26, 17 and 20. His longest carries the last two weeks are 8 and 10 yards.
Just like in 2008, it's all in front of the Jets right now. After successive wins against the 10-0 Titans and the big win at New England back in '08. the Jets were 8-3 and had their destiny in their own hands before collapsing under an avalanche of Brett Favre interceptions.
Once again in 2010, the Jets' destiny is in their own hands.
There are four AFC teams with 6-2 records. The Jets so far are 1-1 against those teams, and they have two more games against those 6-2 teams.
Make the switch to Greene now. Maybe this will inject a little bit of the hurry up into their offense. The defense needs to step it up just as it did in the 2nd half of last year. Championships drives are many times begun in November. Sure, you would like to see teams win convincingly week after week, but what is important, truly important, is for teams to win in November and to get better each week while doing so.
Most years, a 5-3 second half after a 6-2 first half would be a good thing. An 11-5 might even get you the AFC East title. but if you want to be a team of consequence, a team that gets a bye or even the top overall seed 11-5 will not be good enough. Not this year.
One of these 6-2 teams is going to finish at 13-3, and that team will be the team that gets the #1 seed atop the AFC. The Jets are at Cleveland this week before hosting Houston the following week and Cincinnati at home on Thanksgiving night. Then they play a four week stretch of games that will no doubt tell the story of theie 2010 regular season
The first of those four games is at New England, who were run out of the building in Cleveland by Eric Mangini's Browns. Next up are the Steelers in Pittsburgh, who held off a furious rally in Cincinnati and came that close to blowing a 20 point lead for the first team in their team's history, but they held on. Game three has the Jets hosting the Dolphins who today announced Chad Pennington would be their starter on Sunday. The final game in this grueling four game stretch is at Chicago before closing the regular season at home against Buffalo.
The Jets almost lost to a 2-5 Lions team, but just like the Steelers they found a way to win on the road, always tough in the NFL. They don't award style points when you win. You just get the W and keep trying getting better. The Jets NEED the win in Cleveland on Sunday, just as they need to win at home against Houston and Cincinnati. They need to have re-establish momentum going into that pivotal four game stretch beginning in Week 13 at New England.
This week Pittsburgh is playing New England. Baltimore is playing the 6-2 Falcons in Atlanta. The Jets have a chance to open up a one game lead on two of the three teams currently tied atop the AFC with six wins and stay even with the other six win team. Cleveland is playing lights out football lately and has become something of a giant killer, beating New England, Baltimore, and New Orleans for their three wins.
None of that matters. The Jets need to win in Cleveland. 2-0, 51-50, it doesn't matter. They need to win.
Find a way.