Jets must halt Broncos' running game
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DENVER -- They're going from one extreme to another.
Only four days after trying to match wits with Tom Brady and the Patriots' aerial attack, the Jets are about to go up against the Broncos' extremely unconventional offense, a college-like option scheme that could leave the Jets' defensive backs counting sheep.
"This is a game for the secondary," All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis said, "for us not to fall asleep back there."
When the Jets (5-4) square off against the Broncos (4-5) here Thursday night, they won't take the same approach they've used against quarterbacks who are adept at carving up a secondary.
Denver's unorthodox, read-option offense tailored to Tim Tebow's strengths is an NFL aberration. So the Jets know gap integrity and attention to assignment detail will be crucial in stopping the league's No. 2 rushing attack, which is spearheaded by Tebow and averaging 158.2 yards per game.
"It's completely different," safety Jim Leonhard said. "You have a totally different game plan, but I think we have great coaches, so we can make this transition. We have a lot of calls in our playbook, [so] it's not like we have to create new defenses to play a game like this."
Denver, which is 3-1 since Tebow took over as the starter, has rushed for a league-high 915 yards in its past four games. Prior to Tebow's anointing, the Broncos were ranked No. 22 in rushing. But they've jumped to near the top of the league with an offense that mirrors what Tebow ran at Florida.
In a 17-10 win over the Chiefs on Sunday, Tebow completed only 2 of 8 passes, and the Broncos ran it 55 times for 244 yards. Tebow already has eclipsed John Elway's 1987 franchise record of 304 rushing yards by a quarterback, gaining 320 bruising yards and scoring twice on 48 attempts.
"You see a lot of that stuff in college, but they are doing a good job of it," linebacker Jamaal Westerman said. "They are making the plays and winning games."
Tebow's passing numbers are modest, at best. He's completed only 47 of 105 for 605 yards and seven TDs with only one interception.
"The thing with him is you have to stay disciplined," Leonhard said, "because as inconsistent as he is throwing the football, all of sudden, he'll make a throw where you go, 'Wow, that was impressive.' For the most part, those throws have been touchdowns.
"You have to stay honest with your eyes and play with good technique, otherwise, they can hurt you."
That's why Revis knows the Jets' secondary has to do whatever it takes to maintain mental sharpness.
"You just cannot go to sleep," Revis said. "This is a game where their running backs will get a lot of carries, and that can kind of lull you to sleep if you see run after run, series after series. So we've just got to keep our eye on the receiver and when it's a pass, just focus on the pass.
"We know he is going to have his carries, but they are also going to throw the ball. They have no choice but to throw the ball. They've done it in the past and they are going to do it again."
Tomlinson, Kerley out. RB LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) and rookie WR/KR Jeremy Kerley (knee) were ruled out for Thursday night. Tomlinson suffered a sprained left MCL Sunday. Rookie RB Bilal Powell and WR Eron Riley could be active.