Jets Can't Take the Bait From Patriots Defense - NBC New York

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Jets Can't Take the Bait From Patriots Defense

Putting the game into Mark Sanchez's hands isn't a great idea



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    Another running play isn't going to make anyone unhappy.

    There was something warm and familiar about the Jets' 35-9 win over the Colts last weekend. 

    They ran the ball in the first quarter, they ran the ball in the fourth quarter and they ran the ball in between until you were forced to wonder if they might have been playing under throwback rules that outlawed the forward pass. After months of talking about getting back to basics, the Jets finally did it and they won big as a result. 

    It's no surprise, then, that Mark Sanchez had his best game since the opener in the process. For a lot of quarterbacks, calling an 82-yard outing a good game would lead to guffaws but it's long been established that Sanchez is at his best when he's being asked to do the least. 

    Sanchez made the throws he had to make last weekend, including a pair of two touchdowns, and the Jets offense looked the way it did in the golden days of 2009 and 2010. And it made you wonder just why the Jets ever decided to go in a different direction offensively. 

    There was something to be said for seeing if Sanchez could handle a larger offensive role when the 2011 season got underway, but the early results were not good enough to justify the way the Jets kept doubling down on the passing game as the season played out. The Christmas Eve loss to the Giants was a farce as the team kept calling passing plays even though almost all of them wound up with negative results. 

    It should have been enough for the Jets to realize that their best case scenario was to have Sanchez do as little as possible to win games, but they wound up with only minimal changes to the offense this offseason. For five weeks, it looked like 2011 all over again and the results were just about what you'd imagine given that operating philosophy. 

    We realize it's not as easy as just saying that you're going to run the ball and then, POOF, you're running the ball for more than 200 yards. Shonn Greene looks sluggish, the offensive line didn't win enough battles and the Jets were left without a good reason to stop throwing the ball so often. 

    They may be tempted to make a counter move this week after bringing back the Ground and Pound against Indy. The Patriots have been torn apart through the air all season, something that suggests putting the ball in the air will bear a lot of fruit. 

    It would be a big mistake to go that way, one that Bill Belichick would likely love to see Rex Ryan make on Sunday. The Jets need to focus on their strengths, not New England's weaknesses, and remain committed to putting themselves in the best possible solutions offensively. 

    That means using the run to set up whatever passing you do and it means avoiding unnecessary risks so that they don't hand points to Tom Brady and company. It's not the most exciting prescription in the world, but exciting losses are still losses. 

    A boring win will work just fine this and every week. It's a lot more likely to happen if the Jets remember to hold onto the identity they had abandoned for far too long. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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