The second divisional game is looming, just a few days away. Our excellent staff writer, Craig Hoffman, wrote some excellent insight earlier today about how the Jets must win the day with the running attack. Take a look at it if you haven’t, it is excellent, as is all of Craig’s work at The Jet Press.
This afternoon, I am going to piggy-back on Craig’s thought a bit here. He is absolutely right, the running game needs to be huge to win this game Sunday afternoon. Let’s extend that thought a bit. It’s a good thing that Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Willie Colon are likely only to be fined from the melee last week. To win this game Sunday, the Jets must win the battle upfront.
Everything starts with the guys upfront. When the offensive line goes, everything about your offense looks worse, from the quarterback, right down the line to every weapon you have. To slow down that pass rush of the Bills, the Jets are going to have to run the football, and run it effectively. Yes, Marty Mornhinweg throws the football with the ease that he takes in oxygen, it’s what he does. Not to criticize, it’s just his style. But, if the Jets throw too much, the pass rush will tee off.
The running game improved last week. The Jets ran it at a four yard per carry clip against the Patriots last week. There was vast improvement from the game against Tampa Bay, so it is evident that the line is starting to gel, opening up holes for Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. That balance will be key to winning the game on Sunday afternoon.
Why else do the Jets need to win the battle upfront on Sunday? This guy………….
They call him “Super Mario”. He found his stride last week against the Carolina Panthers. Per Pro Football Focus, in addition to the 4.5 sacks he recorded, he also was given credit for one quarterback hit and five hurries. This just in, that’s a great day for a pass rusher. This is the same guy that recorded 10.5 sacks last season, and posted 12 and 14 sacks over back to back seasons with the Houston Texans. This will be a true test for the Jets’ offensive line.
Don’t forget Kyle Williams, a player that doesn’t garner the same attention as Mario, but is earning notice as a pass rusher as well. He was credited with four quarterback hurries to go along with five tackles. Geno Smith took notice of him on film, and it is with good reason. His PFF grade ranks him fourth in the league among 3-4 defensive ends with an overall grade of 3.8.
The game starts with the guys upfront. Never is that more true than against this active front seven of the Buffalo Bills. It’s a good think that they will all play on Sunday, otherwise it would be a long day before it even starts.