Following a lackluster outing in the Motor City during the preseason home opener, the New York Jets ground game saw a resurgence on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Bilal Powell led the way with 68 yards on seven carries while Kahlil Bell rushed for just 29 yards on 11 carries, but punched in a pair of second half touchdowns. All totaled, Gang Green amassed 176 rushing yards on 40 carries producing a stellar 4.4 yards per carry average.
New York’s prized free agent, offensive lineman Willie Colon, was pleased with the toughness and effort his unit showed.
“Yeah, from last week we didn’t come out and execute,” said Colon of the line’s improvement from the preseason opener. “We felt that we could have. Our game plan was to come out and be more dominant. We messed up last week.”
While the running holes were aplenty, pass protection for quarterback Mark Sanchez was outstanding throughout the evening as well.
“That’s the goal, explained Colon. “Keep the quarterback upright, give him time where he can make his reads. Try not to let the pressure get in his face too much and close up the holes. Mark (Sanchez) did a great job marching down field.”
The Jets' offensive line struggled throughout the 2012 campaign to keep Sanchez clean in the pocket, while failing to open up adequate running lanes for the team’s ballcarriers. Colon was the Jets' top addition during free agency, and the veteran lineman is already making a difference in his short time in the Big Apple.
“No question,” said Colon. “I think, obviously, we have D’Brickashaw (Ferguson), we have Nick (Mangold), Austin’s (Howard) playing well, at left guard, (Stephen) Peterman came in, he’s a veteran guy, and I just try to be the spark and make things happen.”