The New York Jets Underutilized Thomas Jones in Loss to the Raiders

Andrew KaufmanSenior Analyst IOctober 20, 2008

On Sunday, the New York Jets dropped a game that they needed to win and that they should have won against the Oakland Raiders.

The Jets' defense looked sharp, but the offense never really got going on the road against an inferior Oakland squad. Specifically, the Jets’ receivers were completely unable to get open down the field against the Raiders’ secondary.

What made the defeat all the more disappointing was that the Jets finally got their ground-game going. Running back Thomas Jones had 159 yards on 24 carries, yet New York was only able to put 13 points on the board in nearly five quarters.

Which begs the question: Why didn’t Jones get the ball more?

No matter how you slice it, the Jets’ running back was severely underused. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry and had several runs of over 10 yards as the Jet offensively line routinely pushed the Raiders’ players backwards. Jones could easily have rushed for over 200 yards in this game.

In the meantime, Brett Favre averaged only 5.2 yards per pass attempt—it is rather unusual for a running back to average more yards per carry than a quarterback’s yards per pass attempt.

Jones’ secondary role in the Jets' offense is even more bewildering when you consider the problems that were plaguing the Jets throughout the game—mainly that they seemed a bit flat.

Running the football allows for much more aggressive and physical line play than passing does, as the linemen are trying to attack and push defenders backward as opposed to just keeping defenders away while backpedaling. Thus, running the ball successfully sets an in-your-face tone that gets players into the game mentally. This mentality is exactly what the Jets needed Sunday.

The silver lining from Sunday’s defeat is that the Jets were finally able to establish a ground game that hadn’t really gotten going yet. They are going to need to use it a lot more if they expect to make the playoffs.