Jets' D tough on the run, but does it matter?

Eric Goska
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New York Jets strong safety Dawan Landry (26) tackles Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew (21) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J.

Have you heard? The Jets possess a top-notch run defense.

If you've been doing your homework for the Green Bay-New York matchup that takes place Sunday at Lambeau Field, you probably have.

Have you heard that this penchant for defending the run may not affect the outcome of the game as much as might be expected?

Didn't think so.

Let's allay some fears with Sunday's column. The Packers can prevail even if New York limits them to numbers on par with the league-leading standards it has established over the last 17 regular-season games.

In fact, history suggests it's more than possible.

Last year, the Jets led the NFL by allowing opponents an average of just 3.35 yards per rushing attempt. It was the first time since 1970 that the club finished first in that regard.

Seven times the Jets held opponents to less than three yards a pop. That's the highest number by the team since 1986 when it also did so seven times.

New York gave up just six runs of 20 or more yards all season. Only the Ravens, Raiders and 49ers – all with five – allowed fewer.

New York was even more unyielding away from MetLife Stadium. Their allowance of 2.76 yards per carry in road games also ranked No. 1.

In eight away games, the Jets were tested 229 times and surrendered a league-low 633 rushing yards. New York allowed only one team – the Panthers (131 yards) – to crack triple figures.

Certainly no individual did that to New York when it was traveling. Carolina's DeAngelo Williams came closest with 81 yards in mid-December.

The Jets were one of two teams (Ravens) to not allow a run of more than 20 yards on the road.

This year, New York again appears formidable. In its season-opening 19-14 defeat of the Raiders, Jets linebacker David Harris and defensive lineman Damon Harrison each figured in at least three tackles against the run as Oakland managed but 25 yards rushing on 15 trips.

So will daylight be all but blotted out for Packers' running backs? And if so, how much will that matter?

New York's record when holding opponents to fewer than three yards a carry last season was just 2-5. Those two wins came against the Buccaneers and Falcons, teams that finished 4-12.

The Patriots (2.3 yards per carry) defeated New York 13-10 in Week 2. The Titans (2.5), Steelers (2.8) and Ravens (2.2) also won, each by at least 13 points.

Even at their immovable best, the tightfisted Jets couldn't secure victory. In mid-November, they permitted the Bills but 68 rushing yards on 38 carries (1.8), yet Buffalo cruised 37-14.

Would New York have been better off in 2013 had it not been so tightfisted? The question is a slap in the face to any defensive coordinator, but the Jets were 5-0 in games in which opponents averaged more than four yards a carry.

Case in point: Oakland, which gouged the Jets for a season-high 150 yards on 26 rushes (5.8), couldn't close the deal and fell 37-27 to New York in early December.

The Jets are not alone in this often counterintuitive world of average yards per carry. League wide, those residing at the lower end of this defensive statistic must wonder if the effort expended to get there is worth it.

Last season, teams were 45-47 (.489) when holding the competition below three yards a carry. Teams that did so on the road were even less successful going 16-32 (.333).

Which brings us to the Packers: How might they fare if New York stonewalls with a vengeance?

Green Bay has played 314 regular-season games at Lambeau Field. On average, they fail to gain three yards a carry about every fifth game, and their record when doing so is 37-24-2 (.603).

Coach Mike McCarthy's Packers hardly miss a beat. They're 7-1 (.875) at home, the lone loss a 35-0 setback to the Patriots in 2006 on an afternoon when precious little went right for the Green and Gold.

Extra point

New York held Green Bay to 81 yards rushing on 26 attempts (3.1 average) in the last meeting between these two teams. Mason Crosby kicked three field goals in the Packers' 9-0 victory on Oct. 31, 2010.

Regular-season series

Overall: New York leads 8-3

At Lambeau Field: Jets lead 3-1

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (58-30 overall; 1-0 vs. New York)

Jets: Geno Smith (9-8; 0-0 vs. Green Bay)

Once a Jet, now a Packer

There are no former Jets on the Packers' roster.

Once a Packer, now a Jet

Tackle Breno Giacomini (2008) is a former Packer.

Blotting out daylight

The 10 teams that held opponents to fewer than 3.9 rushing yards per carry in 2013.

Avg. Team Record

3.35 Jets 8-8

3.65 Cardinals 10-6

3.74 Rams 7-9

3.77 Eagles 10-6

3.83 Ravens 8-8

3.84 Giants 7-9

3.85 Seahawks 13-3

3.85 Browns 4-12

3.87 49ers 12-4

3.87 Broncos 13-3

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