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Thanksgiving Travel Warning: Jets Taking to the Air

A balanced offense is a more dangerous offense

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Change can come from many places. 

    It can come from a concerted effort to do things a new way, accepting that there will be bumps in the road. It can come from being backed into a corner with no other choice but to shake things up and see what happens. Or it can come when a new way presents itself and keeps making clear that it is the only way forward.

    That last mode is working its magic on the Jets right now. It has become increasingly clear that these Jets are not a team that needs to run the ball all day, cross its fingers and hope that Mark Sanchez doesn't screw everything up. That was last year's plan and it worked pretty well, but all things have their day and the day for that scheme has passed.

    This year's team often struggles to get its running game established while Mark Sanchez is winning games with his arm and his cadre of weapons. Santonio Holmes has added a dimension to the offense that it has not had in many years and his presence means that there is almost always a wide open receiver for Sanchez to hit down the field. It's a far cry from last season.

    That doesn't mean the team should be abandoning the run. Far from it, really. It means that the growth of the passing game offers the Jets the chance to have a more balanced attack than they were able to employ during last year's run to the AFC Championship Game. The more defenses are forced to prepare themselves for an aerial onslaught, the more space Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will have to operate on the ground.

    The Bengals offer a prime chance to put this new approach into motion. They aren't a very good defense in any respect, but they lost four defensive backs to injury last weekend and the short week isn't doing them any favors when it comes to replacing them. The Jets should be able to exploit that weakness early and then drive the ball down their throats late to run out the clock. It's hard to imagine that there will be a Jets game that doesn't require last-second heroics, but this one smells like it.

    Standing in the way of letting this change happen is Rex Ryan's mantra that the Jets are a ground and pound team. Coaches are big on talk about how they believe in this and they believe in that, but it often has no basis in fact. Just look at Tom Coughlin's claims that the Giants aren't about turnovers, penalties and undisciplined play for an example of how reality rarely infringes on the mind of football coaches. Ryan could be the same way, but his other big mantra could open the door.

    You'll likely remember it from "Hard Knocks": We plan to be the team with the best [expletive] record in football.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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