The New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars both utilized powerful running attacks Sunday, but it was the Jets who out-rushed the Jaguars to a 23-20 overtime victory.
Both teams posted outstanding numbers on the ground, but the Jets were somehow on another level. Gang Green rushed for 256 yards Sunday after compiling 267 rushing yards through the first three games of the season. Even more impressive was that the Jets averaged eight yards per carry on 32 attempts.
Was New York’s Week 4 outburst a flash in the pan, or is it something that can be replicated? We’ll attempt to answer that by taking a deeper dive into what worked for the Jets during their second straight victory.
Lead blockers did their job
Bilal Powell rushed for 163 yards on 21 carries, but 75 yards came on a somewhat controversial touchdown run in the first quarter. Powell was tripped up after getting through the hole on the toss play, but continued running for the end zone after he wasn’t ruled down. Some might say Powell’s run was a fluke because officials were unable to confirm whether he was touched down by Telvin Smith. But Powell likely would’ve busted a big run regardless.
That’s because the lead blockers on the play each did their job on a complicated blocking scheme. The outside toss involves frontside guard Brian Winters pulling to the outside, while right tackle Brent Qvale blocked down and center Wesley Johnson went out to the second level to block the first black jersey he saw. The Jets had two tight ends on the right side and both Eric Tomlinson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins did their jobs. Seferian-Jenkins first chipped on Calais Campbell before passing him off to Tomlinson. Seferian-Jenkins made the play by washing linebacker Paul Posluszny down the line, freeing up Powell to get through the lane. Fullback Lawrence Thomas also did a nice job against Myles Jack, who could have disrupted the play in the backfield.
The only blocker who didn’t do his job was Johnson, who missed Smith as he pursues the hole. Fortunately, instant replay couldn’t conclusively show Powell getting touched, and he takes care of the rest.
Offensive line created cutback lanes that Jets’ RBs didn’t miss
Jacksonville’s defense swarmed the Jets all night, but that aggressiveness backfired on a couple of occasions. This 33-yard run by Powell was an example of how New York’s offensive line was able to corral the over-pursuing Jaguars.
Interestingly enough, the Jaguars contained the original play perfectly. The play appeared to be designed for the 4-hole between Winters and Qvale. However, Jacksonville’s front seven read the play immediately and went with the flow. New York’s entire offensive line blocked right expect for Seferian-Jenkins, who had backside responsibility. The Jets washed Jacksonville further down the line of scrimmage, Powell saw it and the seas parted for a big gain.
Elijah McGuire displays vision of a veteran
Sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire definitely wasn’t the rookie running back garnering the hype entering this contest (cough, cough, Leonard Fournette). But McGuire stole the show with 93 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
McGuire’s best run came on his 69-yard touchdown run. The offensive line doesn’t block this play particularly well. Just like the last play, New York takes advantage of Jacksonville’s aggression. McGuire recognizes the cutback lane, hits it with an impressive cut and makes safety Barry Church look silly as he glides into the end zone.
The Jets might have gotten a tremendous value player in McGuire, who showed plenty of promise splitting carries with Powell.
Is this sustainable?
Sorry, the Jets aren’t rushing for 256 yards every week. New York was one of the worst teams in the league in the running department before Sunday’s win. So what changed? For starters, offensive coordinator John Morton did a nice job calling plays with Jacksonville’s aggressiveness in mind. The line hasn’t been great in run blocking, but they did a nice job of creating cutback lanes. Powell and McGuire both did an excellent job of identifying these new holes and hitting them with authority.
The Jets will enter next week’s contest against Cleveland with plenty of confidence and for good reason. The ground and pound could be back in Gotham.