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Jets vs Cardinals: All about the running game for Gang Green

By Michael Pallas
Oct 9, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of their game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of their game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports /
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One of the most important aspects of Jets vs Cardinals in Week 6 is the running attack for both teams.  They’re both in the middle of the pack.

Whoever can establish the run early in Jets vs Cardinals will be on the road to victory.  Early on this season, the results have been mixed for both teams heading into tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup.

Related Story: Jets vs Cardinals: Top 3 keys to a New York victory

As we watch the New York Jets, a lot of things come to mind as to why they’re losing:

1. Turnovers2. Not being able to cover on the back end3. Not being able to cover tight ends

There’s a big key to the offense of the Jets for them to actually leave this game victorious.  They haven’t been winning due to lacking explosive plays in the running game.

Coaches and analysts always use a line similar to this.  “Stick to the running game, and the explosive plays will come.”

The problem with the Jets is that they are running the football, and somewhat effectively.  They’re averaging 25 carries per game and 4.2 yards per carry.

However with no explosiveness in the running game, the defense doesn’t have to worry about the play getting behind them.

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According to Football Outsiders, the Jets aren’t doing well on what they call Second Level Yards (plays 5-10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage) and Open Field Yards (plays more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage).  They rank 13th and 23rd respectively.

A lack of explosive plays actually hurts the passing game too.  Normally, if you have an explosive run attack, safeties will feel the need cheat up to guard against the run, which opens up the middle of the field and the deep routes from the slot.  Also, It provides one-on-one on the outside.

However, without the threat of a long run, safeties know the play will remain in front of them.  Thus, they can maintain coverage integrity.

Must Read: Sophomore year staff to blame for slow start of Jets?

If the Jets can get the running game going, it will also lead to some one-on-one matchups for their speed threats that will be used in place of Eric Decker, who was placed on injured reserve this week.  Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall are possession receivers who don’t have elite speed.

Therefore, they need the speed guys to step up.  Eliminating the safety help over the top will only help them.  If the Jets want to beat the Cardinals, they have to commit to the run and above all else, cash in on some explosive plays by their running backs.

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