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How LaDainian Tomlinson Is the Key to a Successful New York Jets Offense in 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets runs for yards after the catch against Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter during their NFL Season Opening Game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Chris Dela RosaContributor IDecember 8, 2014

Entering this season, the Jets did not have a clear idea as to how they were going to run their offense.  Similar to the Miami Heat and Philadelphia Eagles, they acquired several weapons throughout the offseason like Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Jeremy Kerley.

Since Rex Ryan started coaching the Jets in 2009, the Jets have been a "Ground 'n Pound" team, but as Mark Sanchez continues to mature, they are trying to give him some more opportunities to throw the ball.

This transition proved to be a tough one for the Jets when they played the Cowboys Sunday night.  Brian Schottenheimer's offense—which is known for its heavy use of run plays—ran the ball 15 times for a total of 45 yards.

Even though they struggled to put together a drive where the offense moved as a unit, the Jets may have found their new offensive game plan as LaDainian Tomlinson flourished during Sunday's game. 

While everybody has been talking about Darrelle Revis' great interception or Nick Folk's boot that won the game for the Jets, they forget four of Tomlinson's six receptions were clutch as they helped the Jets move the chains, especially on a few third and long plays.  

Tomlinson's best reception came in the second quarter when the Jets began their first scoring drive late in the period. Mark Sanchez was under pressure on a 1st and 10 with under a minute left, and he dumped the ball to Tomlinson for 32-yard screen pass. The pass allowed the Jets to enter Dallas territory with an ample amount of time to score, which is exactly what they did.  A few plays after the screen, Sanchez fired a rocket to Dustin Keller, which cut the Dallas lead to three at halftime.

Having the two-running-back system is the best game plan they have, but they need to make good use of it.  As I said before, the Jets only ran the ball 15 times while Sanchez attempted 44 passes and only completed 26.  Without some sort of balance, the Jets will be unsuccessful when it comes to the aerial attack and "ground 'n pound."

Establishing the run early on will be key in this new game plan. One of the offensive play calls Brian Schottenheimer made was using play-action passes on first down. This will work for the Jets all season. It will not only allow them to pass on first down, but once defenses continually key on the run, they will be able to get the ball to receivers like Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes as they will be in single coverage.

Signing LaDainian Tomlinson was possibly one of the better decisions general manager Mike Tannenbaum has made over the course of his career with the Jets.

With a rested Tomlinson entering and leaving throughout the course of the game, the Jets have even more options—especially in passing situations on third down.  As long as the Jets find the right balance between running and passing before the tougher games this season, they will have a commanding offense to go along with their high caliber defense. 

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