Do you know why football is the greatest sport in the world? I’ll tell you why. It’s because it is the ultimate team game. If you add that 20 point scorer to your NBA team, that team is instantly several wins better, true? What about when your favorite hockey team signs that sniper at right-wing, and he gives you 40 goals the next season? That team will be miles and miles better than the year before.
Even in baseball, you can improve by leaps and bounds by adding one guy. What happens when that team of yours adds a 20 win pitcher. Quite the improvement, unless your team is the Mets, like mine is. How about a 25 HR, 130 RBI guy? That lineup will be miles ahead of what it was the previous season.
But this is not the case in football. Despite what people say about the quarterback, simply making the change from one to another does not make a non-playoff team into a playoff team. All the players on a play must execute in unison. They must understand their role in a play as compared to everyone else’s.
So with that, if the Jets are going to contend in 2013, it has to be more than about just the players. You can add whomever you like to your football team, but if they cannot execute as a group, the team will not survive. So, starting today, we are going to take a look at some of the relationships, or interactions between the squads, that must improve TOGETHER in order for the Jets to contend. Here is the first:
RUNNING BACKS WITH THE OFFENSIVE LINE
First, as we think about the running attack, we sometimes forget that there will be a minimum of two new starters on the Jets’ offensive line. Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson are gone. Despite the fact that he played well last year, Austin Howard is not guaranteed the starting job at right tackle. There could be three new starters.
Playing offensive line is about timing. Each guy on the line must understand and know every move that is coming from the guy next to him. If they don’t, it will be a negative, a sack, or a fumble. These players must get to work at understanding each other right away for the Jets to have any chance. How quick does this guy pull when it’s called? How quickly can I jump to his spot (if that’s the call)? It’s the little things like this that will give us a clear indication about how the offensive line is improving.
Add that to the 2 new faces in the Jets’ backfield, and the work they have to do is just that much more enormous. The days of the guy running up their backs on the offensive line for 3 yards are gone. Instead, 2 running backs that can take it to the outside are in their place. And they get to the outside quicker than most backs in this league. The linemen have to get used to how long it takes to get out in front of these guys. Important, no? And the backs have to become accustomed to how long it takes for these linemen to set their blocks.
Whether Ivory and Goodson look good in the backfield or not, it will make no difference if the offensive line does not perform. They have to learn how to play with each other, as well as the guy running behind them. It’s a most important relationship, and the time to set it up starts at camp.