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Jets Running Game Report Card

Shonn Greene's first day as the bell cow could have gone better

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Grounded and pounded was more like it.

    Even though it was much shorter than normal, this offseason was one of change for the Jets offense.

    The biggest and most discussed one was the enhanced role of Mark Sanchez. When they overhauled the receiving corps, the Jets made it obvious that they were looking to use the pass more aggressively than they had in Rex Ryan's first two seasons as head coach.

    A change at running back got a little less attention, mostly because everyone expected Shonn Greene to move up in the pecking order while LaDainian Tomlinson shifted into a less taxing role in his 11th NFL season. The move wasn't seen as a particularly risky one, especially since Greene played the "bell cow" role plenty of times in his first two years with the Jets.

    One week is not enough time to make any grand conclusions, but the early returns on the move weren't good. Greene struggled to make any kind of impression against the Cowboys and was barely on the field in the second half as the team shifted to a passing attack that called on Tomlinson's skills out of the backfield a lot more often.

    Not all of that can be laid at Greene's feet. The offensive line lost one of its best run blockers when the team said goodbye to Damian Woody and Wayne Hunter didn't show any sign of being able to replicate Woody's work in his debut as a starter.

    That said, there are still some questions Greene needs to answer. In his first two seasons, Greene came in against defenses that had been softened up through the early parts of games and then made them pay by running through huge holes opened up by the offensive line.

    In the feature back role, though, Greene looked like more of a plodder who didn't have the instincts or motor to make something happen under less than ideal conditions. That robbed the Jets of a big part of their recent offensive identity, although they didn't suffer terribly because they moved the ball well when they put it in the air.

    They'll need better balance going forward, though, because not every team is going to be down to their third-string corner when they face off against the Jets. Greene will need to do better than 2.6 yards per carry to provide that balance or the Jets are going to find themselves in the strange predicament of going from a team that everyone feared on the ground to one that barely poses a threat.

    Again, it's just one week and the Cowboys proved to be game for the challenge of stopping the Ground and Pound offense that Ryan loves to brag about. If Greene has a few more bad weeks, however, the Jets will have to change their identity on offense or die trying.

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