New York Jets offensive line learning to dominate eight man fronts

The Jets have seen an awful lot of eight-man fronts early this season

FLORHAM PARK: There's a saying Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey likes to use when talking to his running backs. It's sort of a joke, but also rather serious. Gailey, who's one of the more straight-forward coaches on the Jets staff, puts the backs game-day requirements this way: 

"We tell them that we're gonna block the seven most dangerous guys," Gailey said Thursday. "The eighth one is yours." 

Through the first two games of the season, the Jets offense has certainly seen their fair share of eight-man defensive fronts. With teams not afraid of the Jets ability to stretch the ball down the field, an extra safety has been creeping down in an attempt to contain running back Chris Ivory

As a result, the Jets offense has had to find ways to establish a running game when an opposing defense's No. 1 goal is to not let that happen. Then again, as starting offensive guard Willie Colon puts it, running the ball against a packed box is something the group has been doing for over a year now. 

"We saw it last season," Colon said. "We couldn't throw the ball worth a Hell, but we finished third in the league in rushing. Every game we played -- New England, Miami Monday night-- everyone was in the box, even the head coach was in the box. But, it is what it is. 

"When you have that threat in the backfield like (Ivory,) the only way to stop him is to have that guy drop in on the backside, and slant up front. We've gotta heighten on our level of execution." 

Against the Colts last Monday night, the Jets turned to their passing game in an attempt to open up the run. With that extra player near the line, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took shot after shot down the field. The hope was to keep the defense honest. Sure, everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium knew the Jets wanted to run it, but if the threat of a pass was there, the Colts would have to respect it. 

The issue? Those deep shots weren't falling. 

"You have to be good enough to throw it on them and get them (out of the box,)" Gailey said. "But you have to complete it. If you take the shot and throw an incompletion, they'll let you do that all day. You have to hit on them."

Against the Eagles this Sunday, Gailey's offense may be looking to receiver Brandon Marshall for help beating one of the more "physical" and "strongest" teams the Jets will face all season. With another eight-man box certainly coming the Jets way, Fitzpatrick will again need to connect with some shots deep. 

Gailey said he likes Marshall in any 1-on-1 matchup on the outside. So if the Eagles have packed the box, and Marshall is guarded by only cornerback Byron Maxwell, would the ball go his way?

"Yeah, we might," he said. 

And why?

"When you have a great play, you try to get it to him." 

 

Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for The Journal Inquirer and Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes), or via email (connor_j_hughes@yahoo.com)


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