Coach's big decision: How to Ground & Pound?

September, 22, 2012
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Because of injuries to FB John Conner (knee) and TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), the Jets will have a hard time establishing a power-running attack Sunday against the Dolphins. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will have to alter his strategy, perhaps shuffling his personnel groupings.

Conner is the only fullback on the roster. Without him, they won't be able to use as many two-back sets as usual. When they do, it'll be H-Back/TE Konrad Reuland in the backfield. Reuland, hardly a bruiser (or a Terminator), spent the week practicing with the running backs to brush up on his blocking.

Then there's the tight-end issue. The lack of a true blocking tight end is coming back to bite the Jets. Non-blocker Jeff Cumberland will start, with backup OT Jason Smith coming in as an extra blocker in certain packages. Using a 300-pound lineman as a tight end, of course, restricts the passing game.

It's not the Sparano way, but maybe he should try to run out of spread formations, using one back and three or four wide receivers. He should dust off RB Joe McKnight and give him a chance, splitting him out as a receiver and trying to get him isolated on a linebacker.

It won't be easy to use a conventional running attack against the Dolphins, who have gone 16 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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