The Jets are a team that is heavily dependent upon ball control. Mark Sanchez or Greg McElroy are not going to be carrying this team anywhere this season. The burden falls on running back Shonn Greene. It is up to the defense to stop Greene when he is on the field, but the Jaguars also have another way of winning this game: playing keep away.
The Bills did this to the Jaguars very effectively on Sunday.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson were beautiful in their runs and managed to extend drive after drive, despite quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick only completing nine passes. When your running game has both big play potential and the ability to sustain drives, like the Bills and Jets both have, it can be difficult to get the offense off the field. Against the Bills, that resulted in 42 minutes of offense for Buffalo. The Jags need to learn from their mistakes against Buffalo and make sure that Shonn Greene doesn’t have the opportunity to do what Spiller and Jackson did.
That responsibility will likely fall on Montell Owens.
Assuming Rashad Jennings will be unable to play in Sunday’s game (currently listed as questionable) Owens will be the fourth starting running back for the Jaguars this season. He only has 29 yards on seven (4.1 yard average) attempts in the season, but has looked like the better running back when compared to Jennings.
Owens is traditionally a special teams ace, but with the revolving door at running back, he will have to perform at a position he is rarely asked to perform at. If he can keep up his yards per attempt, then I think that Owens can do what the Jaguars need from him: extend drives. The offensive line has been ridiculously shaky all year, but Owens has been able to find holes and burst through them a bit better than Jennings thus far (albeit with a smaller sample size).
The Jets defense is quite good against the pass, even without Darrelle Revis (currently ranked fourth), so exploiting their 29th ranked rushing defense is not only a necessity for keeping their offense off the field, it is also the best way to move the ball against the defense. The Jets allow an average of 4.3 yards per rushing attempt, so the defensive matchup should be right in Owens’ wheelhouse.
Of course, the extra responsibility and increased workload may backfire and Owens could implode like Jennings has this season. Yet Owens has always responded to team necessity with excellent play; there’s a reason the guy goes to the Pro Bowl. In this case, the Jaguars need him to play keep away. I think we can trust Owens will deliver.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims