FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When the New York Jets run the ball, it's not all about grounding and pounding, as Rex Ryan might lead us to believe. There is a technical aspect that often goes overlooked by the untrained eye.
For instance: When LaDainian Tomlinson was stuffed for no gain on a third-and-2 run last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was noticeably agitated. He appeared to be upset with left guard Matt Slauson, who seemed to miss his block.
In fact, it was a miscommunication. Slauson, practicing a new technique taught to the linemen, held his ground, waiting for the linebacker to come downhill before blocking him. Tomlinson expected Slauson to get off the line and attack the linebacker.
Result: Tomlinson ran into Slauson's back.
It was that kind of night for the Jets' running game -- sloppy -- which explains why it will be a point of emphasis Monday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The starting offense rushed for only 16 yards on 11 carries, proving that even the best rushing teams experience preseason hiccups.
"Really, I'd like to see us be able to establish the run game a little more and, obviously, this will be a huge test for us, going against the Giants defense," Ryan said.
The Jets will have two key components to their rushing attack back on the field -- lead back Shonn Greene (foot), who returns after missing one game, and right guard Brandon Moore (offseason hip surgery), who makes his preseason debut.
Finally, the offensive line is whole. It has one game to regain its old chemistry before facing the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener, because there's virtually no chance that starters will play next Thursday in the final preseason game.
The Jets couldn't move the ball against the Bengals, in large part because of heavy blitzing. Showing no respect for the passing game, the Bengals swarmed the line of scrimmage. They got burned, especially on Plaxico Burress' blitz-beating touchdown catch from Mark Sanchez.
"Unfortunately, Cincinnati kind of made us look bad," Slauson said. "They decided to blitz every single play. It made it very difficult to run. But, hey, if they're going to give us the passing game, we've got Plax, Tone [Santonio Holmes] and it's game over."
Slauson said it would be "silly" for defenses to employ the Cincinnati strategy. He believes Sanchez's big-play performance (12-for-20, 173 yards and two TDs) will open some eyes around the league, showing the Jets aren't married to ground-and-pound.
The starters will play two-plus quarters against the Giants, not known as a blitzing team. One of the goals, according to Sanchez, is to improve on third down. Good idea, considering they started 0-for-6 and finished 5-for-17.
Sanchez said they're looking for better production on first down, avoiding second-and-long situations. The Jets rushed seven times for seven yards on first down, but they threw it six times for 63 yards, including a pair of 20-yard completions to Burress.
Burress was so fired up by the passing attack that he predicted the Jets would average at least 28 points a game. It was a positive first step, but there will be growing pains.
Don't forget, Sanchez still is learning about two of his top three receivers, Burress and Derrick Mason (knee), who returns after sitting one game. Burress admitted he lined up in the wrong spot on a couple of occasions in his first game with the Jets.
They get one more dress rehearsal to clean up the mistakes.
"This," Sanchez said, "is a good warm-up for Dallas."