Running game is key to Jets’ success on offense

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - LaDainian Tomlinson is ready to run.

So is Shonn Greene.

With temperatures dropping and the heat of the playoff push building, this is the time of year for which the New York Jets‘ run-first, all-weather offense was made.

“It’s cold weather out there and we’re going to want to attack defenses with our run style,” Greene said Friday, “and kind of try to ground and pound them like we did last year.”

Ground and pound. It’s a phrase coach Rex Ryan has often used to describe his offensive approach since he took over nearly two years ago. He has always been old-school in that way, believing team success is built on a dominant defense and a running game that punishes opponents.

“Obviously, I love to run the football,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, that will pick up.”

The Jets (9-3) hit the ground running last season, using their top-ranked rushing attack with Greene and Thomas Jones to carry them all the way to the AFC championship game. Jones is gone, replaced by Tomlinson, and so, it seems, is the emphasis on the running game lately.

New York ran the ball 607 times in the regular season a year ago and threw it 393 times. Through 12 games this season, the Jets have 396 rushes and 399 passes. It’s a more-balanced approach that has been mostly successful, but New York knows it needs to get back to its roots down the stretch.

“Obviously, that’s the way Rex Ryan wants it to be, a run-first team that really can pound you,” Tomlinson said. “So I believe that’s what we are.”

The statistics say the Jets still are heavily reliant on the running game since they rank fourth in the NFL in rushing. Tomlinson is 10th in the AFC with 788 yards rushing, topping his total from last season in San Diego, and Greene is 14th with 639 yards _ nearly 100 yards better than his rookie year.

But, New York used the running game to dictate games last season, when it chewed up the clock and kept opposing defenses on the field gasping for air.

“I think we’re throwing it more this year,” Ryan said, “but I think we’re very effective in the rushing part.”

But not dominant.

“I feel like we’re a physical team,” Tomlinson said. “That’s the way we’ve been built, to be physical.”

So far, the Jets have had five games in which they’ve had more passes than runs, and five where it’s been the opposite. They’ve had the same number of runs and throws in two games this season.

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