The New York Jets were mighty impressive in their dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. They were able to use a previously weak running game as a springboard to a solid 35-9 home victory.
New York now stands in a four-way tie for first in the AFC East and goes up against the usually pace-setting New England Patriots for a shot at going over .500. As I mentioned before, New York ran that ball extremely well against the Colts.
It put up a total of 252 yards on 44 rush attempts.
This type of offensive scheme and performance became commonplace with Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos last season, but he only contributed three rushes for seven yards in last Sunday's victory.
That might have to change if the Jets are to upset what is suddenly a beatable Patriots' team. Here is my analysis of why New York will have to let Tebow play an important role in this game if it wants to come away with a victory.
As you can see above, New England allowed the middle of the field to open up for Russell Wilson and company last week. This is despite the fact that Wilson, who rushed for over 1,400 yards and 23 touchdowns in college, is as athletic as they come.
It is important to note that New England was playing somewhat of a prevent defense during that particular play against Seattle. Still, defenses do scheme to stop athletic quarterbacks from taking off between the hashes in situations like that. A 20-yard game up the middle wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the offense, would it?
While Tebow might not possess the same fundamental passing ability as Wilson, it would be foolish to think that the Patriots would stack the box with nine or 10 players like we saw defenses do so many times against Tebow when he was with Denver last season (see below).
If New England wants to stack the box against Tebow, that is fine and dandy. However, as noted above, this wouldn't stop Tebow from going over the top to either Jeremy Kerley or Stephen Hill against what promises to be one-on-one coverage.
Something to this effect seems to make a bit of sense.
Notice here how NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, two of the best linebackers in the NFL, commit to the run as it relates to Tebow. That is the natural initial thought for opposing defenders considering his skill set.
However, it leaves a lot of green down the field for outside receivers.
Now Tebow went up the middle with a dinky dunk pass on that particular play, but you have to believe that offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and company know how this type of defensive philosophy could work to their advantage.
You just saw Tebow scamper 40 yards for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders last season. While I would love to use tape from this year, the former Heisman Winner hasn't seen a whole lot of action for the Jets in 2012.
As you can see, the pocket collapses from the hashes. Tebow's first instinct is a good one, to run through what appeared to be open field. Once he got past the line and hit the second-tier of the defense, there were only two Raiders' defenders occupying that area of the field and both were being held up by blockers.
This enabled Tebow to hit the defensive secondary and make a big gain out of it.
The formation isn't too odd or directly from a trick-playbook. Instead, it is a one running back shotgun formation with two wide.
As you can see above, the Jets have run that same exact formation with Tebow taking the hike out of the shotgun. Utilize that more efficiently against a lesser defense than what they saw in Week 4 and the results might be different.
At the very least, the middle of the field appears to be open if the blockers can win engagement at the line against New England defensive linemen.
Lining up at Running Back
Various reports seem to indicate, and Rex Ryan has confirmed, that the New York Jets could use Tebow at running back this week against New England (via Boston.com). While this might have been a long time coming, don't expect massive holes like what we saw when Tebow was running the wildcat or utilizing the draw.
What you can expect when Tebow lines up at running back is an unbalanced offensive line, utilizing extra blockers along the interior of the line. The idea that New England will be able to stop Tebow going downhill with Lex Hilliard and Nick Mangold blocking in the trenches probably doesn't hold a lot of ground at this point, especially if D'Brickashaw Ferguson is called upon to pull inside.
That is about 1,100 pounds (over a half of ton) of beef right there.
New York ranks in the middle of the pack on third-down conversions at about 40 percent. While three of Joe McKnight's 10 rushes have gone for first downs, the Jets seem to struggle running the ball to move the chains. Of the 142 times that Bilal Powell and Shonn Greene have rushed the ball, they have only come up with 24 first downs, about 16.9 percent of the time.
For comparison sake, New England running back Stevan Ridley moves the chains about 32 percent of the time.
I understand that having an anemic passing offense will put you in less-than-enviable passing situations, but there has to be more to it. In reality, the Jets are just not moving the chains on short-yardage attempts.
Enter into the equation what I prefaced above. Go with the jumbo package, utilizing Tebow as a running back and go unbalanced at the line. At the very least, they should be able to be more productive on third-down moving forward. This would take the ball out of Tom Brady's hands by continuing to mount time consuming drives.
That is the only way New York can pull off an upset here.
Yes, Tebow should have an important role on this game if the Jets are to win and move above .500. After all, their offensive scheme last week seemed to fit what the enigmatic quarterback does best. Go with the ground and pound game. In the process, control the clock, move the chains and batter the Patriots defensive line.