Can the Jets Effectively Run Ground and Pound?


May 24, 2012; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan (left) and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano during organized team activities at their training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

Coach Ryan has a lot of different faces around this year, starting with the guy in the picture, Tony Sparano. They have retooled a lot on the defense, and added some new options on the offensive side of the ball as well, like Stephen Hill and Terrance Ganaway, among others.

They also installed an old attitude, the Ground and Pound. They have a new offensive coordinator to lead it, the aforementioned Tony Sparano. They also have a new offensive line coach in Dave Guglielmo to preach physicality as well.

They have retooled quite a bit. But have they retooled enough? Changes in coaching are great, but execution on the field is what will make the difference, as I have discussed many times. Let’s look at the evolution of the offensive line, through the history of the Ground and Pound offense.

Rex came on the scene in the year 2009, and took the Jets by storm with the concept, and it paid great dividends, as the Jets led the league in rushing with 2,756 yards, and they averaged 4.5 yards per carry, en route to the AFC Championship game.

Now look at that starting offensive line:

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody. And they were feared as one of the top lines in football.

Next, 2010, the Jets improve their record to 11-5, and again make a run to the AFC Championship game. They made a small step backwards in the running game, ranking 4th with 2,374 yards rushing, and averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Now, the line:

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody. See? for the first time, a cog from the 2009 group is removed, and they take a step back.

Finally, 2011. We know the team results, 8-8, the first time Rex misses the playoffs, and a broken locker room. As far as the running game is concerned, 22nd in the league with 1,692 yards rushing, and a meager 3.8 yards per carry.

You all know the change here, but I’m going to tell you anyway. The offensive line in 2011:

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Wayne Hunter. Another removal of a lineman from 2009, and again a step back. This time a major one.

Now, the problem going into 2012. The starting offensive line going into training camp:

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Wayne Hunter. The same group as last year. Is this same group going to be the line of old, just because they have new coaches to enforce physicality?

Don’t necessarily expect it. Coaching is one thing, execution is another.

A lot of stock is being put in Dave Guglielmo, and his ability to turn around this offensive line. Although the Jets have brought in competiton at right tackle, Guglielmo has professed his love for Wayne Hunter.

As Jets fans, for the Ground and Pound to work, we better pray that Guglielmo and Sparano know what they are doing. They are putting a great deal of emphasis on attitude and game plan, with many of the same players that couldn’t do it last year. Maybe someone will beat out Hunter for his job, maybe not.

These guys have to execute, and as constituted, this offensive line and its ability to execute worries me.