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Jets believe ground game will get back on track

Week 3: Jets 24, Titans 17 September 27,

Week 3: Jets 24, Titans 17
September 27, 2009

The Jets prevailed in a hard-fought, rain-soaked battle to start the season a perfect 3-0. The defense came alive in the fourth quarter as David Harris had a huge sack and interception that put the nail in the Titans' coffin. Tennessee fell to 0-3. Photo Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Brandon Moore already has grown tired of talking about it, trying to explain what exactly is going on.

The Jets' ground attack hasn't been getting it done the last two games, not with the same regularity it did in the season opener against the Texans, when it rumbled for 190 yards. The Jets rushed for 200 yards combined in the last two games, so they've been besieged by queries this week about what's wrong with a unit that produced the AFC's leading rusher in Thomas Jones a season ago.

"We went through this last year," said Moore, the team's starting right guard. "As good as people are talking about how good our running game was last year, in the beginning of the year, they were saying the same thing. People understand if you've been around long enough, it's going to come. Just be patient."

Sure, the Jets aren't in the bottom of the league in rushing offense. They're No. 11, averaging 130 yards per game, ahead of where they were at this point in 2008. But this season's numbers are a bit inflated, partly because the Jets ran wild through the Texans' Swiss cheese-like rushing defense, which ranks last in the NFL.

Take away the Jets' two longest runs - Jones' 38-yard touchdown and 39-yard burst in the opener - and they've run the ball 102 times for 313 yards, averaging 3.1 per carry. That's not going to get it done for a squad featuring one of the NFL's most cohesive offensive lines, one that's developing a "ground-and- pound" mentality.

"The running game is something that we know we need to be able to count on," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "Right now, there are just some individual breakdowns. We're trying to work to clean up some combination blocks. We're trying to clean up some checks. Quite honestly, there are just some things with the footwork and the timing of plays between the backs and Mark [Sanchez]."

Sanchez's rookie status also is playing a small role in all of this. Knowing he's not going to be too comfortable just yet, although he has shown he can handle certain situations, teams have dared Sanchez to throw deep. Until the Jets' passing game forces the secondary to stop stacking the box, there won't be as much running room within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage as there should be.

"Every week is going to be a challenge for us because there's going to be eight, nine guys in the box," Jones said. "So you always have to stay patient and keep working, and eventually things will start to turn around."

The Jets are going back to some of their core running plays with hopes of getting on track. But they're confident they'll get their ground game turned around.

"I've been around some very good running teams and everybody - offensive linemen, tight ends, fullbacks, running backs - have to be on the same exact page for that one play to be successful," fullback Tony Richardson said. "Everyone on the offensive line can do the right thing and one guy might do the wrong assignment, and the play is busted because there is a guy free in the backfield. We have the right guys to fix it and I think we're headed in the right direction."

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