All through training camp, pre-season and now the first 1/8th of the regular season, I have had a growing suspicion that our offense is not the advertised "ground and pound" that Rex constantly trumpets. I know it is only two weeks into the regular season but, especially after watching this past weekend's game again, I don't see a team built for a grind it out rushing attack, nor do I see this in the offensive game plans. My logic follows after the jump.First point. This team has 5 wide receivers on the 53 man roster and 2 more on the practice squad. Even when a WR was cut from the PS another one was signed. When Turner was cut they added a WR in Gates. Now, not counting Conner, who rarely touches the ball, there are only three - THREE - RB's on the combined 53 man roster and PS. Ganaway, who looked promising in pre-season and could also have functioned as a backup to Conner, was let go, and was predictably grabbed before he could be added to the PS. And before anyone says we need to count Tebow as a RB because of his special package. we'll get to that. If one of those three RB's was an Adrian Peterson or an Adrian Foster, or even a Trent Richardson (I know, don't go there!), I would not be writing this post. But our three are Greene, Powell, and McKnight, and McKnight seems relegated to a third down/change of pace back in this offense, maybe partly because he is Rex's safety blanket at CB. So assuming the plan would be for Sanchez to be throwing the ball on average no more than 20 times a game, and most of those passes off of play action, we should be expecting these RB's to be carrying the load 40+ times a game. With Greene showing durability issues the last two years, Powell unproven, and McKnight an afterthought, there doesn't seem to be enough depth on this roster to run that type of offense for 16 games. We are talking about over 640 carries split over basically 2 running backs in a season. And why wouldn't we be kicking the tires on a Ryan Grant at this point, as some other teams are, if only as insurance for Greene?
Second point. Against Buffalo, the Jets had 36 rushes for 118 yds, an average of 3.28 yds/carry. Against a depleted Pittsburgh defense - no Harrison, no Polamalu - in a game that was close until Pittsburgh put it away in the fourth, the Jets ran the ball a grand total of 22 times for 90 yds, a respectable 4.08 yds/carry. But only 22 times. The idea behind ground and pound is to keep doing it and wear your opponent down so that you can break off big chunks of yds in the latter part of the game. 22 carries is not going to do it. I know Greene went down, but after the game Rex said it was a coach's decision - not an injury to Greene - that kept him out. And I haven't read any follow up on Greene at all.
Third point, which follows on the above and brings us to Tebow. If there was ever a time to to unleash the super secret Tebow package, then this was the game to do it. Especially after Greene became unavailable. The Jets needed something to control the clock and give their defense some rest, even if they didn't score, if only to improve the field position. But what's Rex's excuse afterwards at the post game press conference? Greene is a key part of the Tebow package, and without him they can't really run it! I don't think enough attention has been paid to that comment. What he's saying is that Powell can't sub for Greene in the package, which is on the face of it absurd. Powell has been exposed to Sparano's creation as long as Greene. He may not have the reps but he should know it.
Fourth and last point. Everyone has rightfully pointed out that Dunbar was a big addition in the off-season. But the replacement of Ellard by Lal, and the makeup of this roster, leads me to think that what is really going on here is a shift to a more multifaceted passing offense, and that is the offense that is being kept under wraps, possibly for the first NE game. And without Keller, they can't run whatever two tight end packages they have, so the offense is more limited.
I think Rex is talking one game and playing another. Whether it is to make Sanchez feel like he's the guy who has to carry the team, or Rex was never comfortable with the Tebow move in the first place, or some other set of reasons, I'm not sure. But this roster does not have the personnel to run a "ground and pound" system, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the loss of Keller is having a bigger impact on the way Sparano really wants to call the game than everyone is admitting. Unless I'm really missing something, there is a lot of misdirection going on, and I will be curious to see what happens once Keller returns at full strength. If not, and this is really the offense Rex and Sparano have in mind, then we may all be wishing for Schotty before this season is over,