I get it were a ground and pound team. Guess what though, eventually were going to have to pass the ball. While it's great to focus on the ground game and get stronger there, you still need a capable passing attack to win. While the Keller extension talks may seem like the Jets are getting away from the bed and butter, there's still a good reason for them. (Besides Keller's deal may give us some more cap room in 2013.) Join after the jump for a more detailed explanation.
The Jets are going back to the drawing board to a ground and pound and Single-wing offense. (Wildcat for those who have never heard the former term.) That's great and dandy but were also going to need to throw the ball. I'm not saying 60+ passes should ever happen again, but if all goes well I'd expect somewhere around a 60-40 run to pass ratio for the Jets. Figuring anywhere between 60-70 offensive plays per game, and were looking at about an average of 20-25 times Sanchez will need to throw the ball.
Simply put, its not just going to be enough to reestablish the run game for us to be effective, we also need to have a passing attack. This is why, among other reasons, I like the idea of bringing back Mark's favorite target and possibly upgrading our WR and skill corps.
Keller isn't a great blocking TE although he is nowhere near what I would call bad. So why resign a guy who doesn't fit the ground and pound mantra? Because there also needs to be something to keep the defense from loading up the box with 11 guys and stuffing the run attack. Keller, when lined up as a TE on the line off the tackle, provides that threat. Keller can step in and make a block or run a route, which causes either a LB or a safety to judge the play. That few milliseconds of reading the TE can be the differences between a 0 yard gain or a 5 yard gain. Plus, Keller is excellent and finding holes and being Mark's go to guy when we need 5-10 yards for a first down this way we can continue to pound the ball down after down.
It may seem counterintuitive, but by strengthening our passing attack, the ground game will get better. That's why I'm also in favor of bringing in either a true deep threat or a great route runner across from Holmes. The deep threat would open the field even more for ground and pound forcing the secondary to either play back or commit an extra man. A great route runner would be excellent for those play action fakes that Mark Sanchez is known to do, which again opens up the ground game.
As of right now, I do not see either of those on our team. Kerley, in my humble opinion, is not suited for an outside receiver and should be kept in the slot where he excels. Rounding our current roster are two guys who have all the physical gifts to be that guy, but so far have not produced. Both Schillens and Turner could in theory be that guy, but I wouldn't want to bet on it knowing both have huge question marks over their heads. I'm not going to say how we should get a WR that fits the bill, but if we do, it will only help the running game by keeping the defense honest.
Also realize something, I'm not talking about getting away from ground and pound, that should be our bread and butter every game of the year. We should be a run team first, and use the passing game to set up and keep the drive going when we need it. There is a happy medium in-between the Packers Air raid offense and the Denver triple option offense last year and our hope is Sparano finds it. Personally, I'd love to see us at about a 60-40 split run to pass to utilize our weapons to the best.
To wrap it all up in a neat bow and put it under a tree:
We do need improve the running game from last year, but we also improve the passing game to allow a fully functioning offense machine to show up on sundays. Ignoring the passing game and it's threat on defenses would be a huge mistake if we only focus on ground and pound.. This is why I'm very in favor of bringing in more threats on the passing game, as opposed to just bringing in guys who excel in run situations. It may seem counterintuitive, but at the end, the more threats you have, the more the defense cannot stop you. The passing game should set up the run, but by ignoring it, we may actually hurt the running game by default.