The biggest winner in the Braylon Edwards trade may just be the New York Jets running game.
The Jets currently hold the league’s No. 9 ranked rushing offense, averaging 130.5 yards per game. Those numbers aren’t hideous but Rex Ryan’s promise of a "ground and pound" attack hasn’t exactly been making any defensive coordinators lose much sleep either.
Of course, much of the running games woes can be linked to rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Last season, defenses had to respect the Jets passing game with veteran Brett Favre under center. Now opponents are simply daring Sanchez to beat them through the air by stacking the defensive front with eight and sometimes even nine players.
There has been very little room for Jones and Leon Washington to run in with extra defenders in the box.
Jones is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry and doesn’t seem like the guy who carved up opponents last season. Washington has a 4.0 yard per carry average but hasn’t been the superman we hoped for so far and rookie Shonn Greene has only four carries in four games.
The reality is that until Sanchez proves he can execute the passing game on a consistent basis, opposing defenses will continue to shut down the ground attack. This is where Edwards comes into play.
With Edwards, the Jets are in a position to threaten defenses deep. Forcing opposing defenses to respect the deep ball will help limit the number of 8 and 9 man fronts our running backs will face in a game.
Once Sanchez, Cotchery and Edwards get into a rhythm with each other, you can expect to see some explosiveness out of the backfield.
Rookie Shonn Greene is likely to have some big numbers in his future with the addition of Edwards. Greene, who was MIA through the first 3 games, injected life into the Jets’ slumping ground game in New Orleans. Greene ripped off 9- and 7-yard gains on consecutive carries in impressive fashion. The 5-11, 226-pound Greene would gain 23 yards on four carries.
Too bad four carries was all he got. The rookie would tweak his ankle in the 3rd quarter or he probably would have seen more action. I get the feeling he’ll be getting a lot more touches in the near future.
Through four games, Jones has 55 percent and Washington has 40 percent of the carries. The Jets insist that they can get their triple backfield 25 carries each in a game but that is likely unrealistic. There is no doubt however that Greene will be a factor as the season goes on.