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Five Key Players to a Successful Second Half for the Jets

By Alan Schechter
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Oct 28, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Shonn Greene (23) runs with the ball during the second half at MetLIfe Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Jets 30-9. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

As we get ready for the second half, we think about the keys to success. The one thing you cannot get away from when talking about the New York Jets is the running game. No matter where you fall on the Mark Sanchez scale, we all know that he cannot carry a team on his own. He just isn’t that type of quarterback. For Mark and this Jets offense to be successful down the stretch, the Jets must have a successful running game. They must be able to pound the ball down the defense’s throat.

Shonn Greene is not an elite running back. As much as I have been a backer of his throughout his career, this is evident, even to me. Shonn Greene is not the type of back that can make something out of nothing. Players like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Darren McFadden are speed backs. They can make defenders miss with an elusive move to one side or another. Shonn Greene is a power back, the type of guy that is going to run downhill and lower his shoulder at the end of the run to finish. As such, he needs help to be successful, and he needs it from five guys that are key to the Jets success:

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, and Austin Howard

Otherwise known as the New York Jets offensive line. They need to open holes for Shonn Greene to run through, and they are not doing so. Not on a consistent basis. You can watch all eight games of the season to see this in action, but this morning, we are going to look at some film of two running plays from last week’s game to illustrate this point. The first is a two yard run from the first quarter.

Here is Shonn Greene lined up in the I-formation, circled in green. He is going to run off the left guard, Matt Slauson. Follow the matchup circled in red, which is Matt Slauson vs Randy Starks, as we move forward.

Can you see the action in the red circle? Matt Slauson loses the matchup against Randy Starks. Starks is able to move Slauson off toward Nick Mangold, leaving the hole open to meet up with Shonn Greene. The result?

They meet in the hole, and it results in a two yard gain for Greene. This is one of many examples. No, Greene is not the fastest guy in the league. But, he needs to have somewhere to run.

Turn the page, and we will look at a run from the second quarter of the same game, where the guilty party of the missed block is an unlikely one.

Again, Shonn Greene is lined up in the eye formation behind Mark Sanchez. Greene is going to take the handoff and run off of the left tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Keep your eyes on the linebacker, circled in red. He is going to become important as we move forward. Here we go…

Here’s the linebacker, again circled in red. Shonn Greene is going to run to the left, following the green line. Nick Mangold is circled in green, as he is key here. He makes his first push correctly, on the guy locked up with Matt Slauson. To spring Greene for a big gain, Mangold is responsible to make a block on the linebacker on the second level. No problem for the Pro Bowl center, right? Let’s see.

I guess nobody is perfect. If you look at the circles, Nick Mangold clearly missed the block on the linebacker, leaving him free to meet Greene in the hole. The result?

He meets Greene in the hole, holding him to a modest three yard gain. Look downfield, as illustrated by the green line. Greene had a lot of room to run if Mangold doesn’t miss the block. There’s nobody in the picture at the next level if Greene gets by the linebacker. But, Mangold missed him. No, Greene is not the fastest, but he is even slower when he doesn’t have somewhere to run.

I could write a 30 page post, at least, illustrating playes like this from the first half of the season. The offensive line is not opening holes for the running game. They can do it, as they showed during the Colts game, as they sprung even the slow Shonn Greene for a 21 yard run. This line has the ability to do it. But they aren’t doing it consistently.

The offensive line has to be consistent in order for the Jets to have any chance to run their second half record to 6-2 to finish at 9-7. If not, it will be a long second half.

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