If no Decker, Gang to lean on ground game

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If Eric Decker cannot go Monday night due to a hamstring injury, the New York Jets are probably going to have to turn to their ground game in order to beat the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium.

Granted, that may not be such a bad thing.

Eric Decker

Eric Decker

#87 WR
New York Jets

2014 STATS

  • Rec9
  • Yds137

  • TD1

  • Avg15.2

  • Long29

  • YAC59

The Jets have rushed for the second-most yards (358) in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, while the Bears possess the league’s sixth-worst run defense (320 yards allowed).

“It’s going to have a big impact,” Jets running back Chris Johnson said when asked how Decker's potential absence could affect the team. “Any time you’ve got a guy of his caliber, with the type of catches that he makes and the type of plays that he makes, out, that’s going to be a blow. But it just gives opportunities to other guys to step up and make big plays. I feel like we’ve got guys on this team who can step up and do those things.”

Johnson is coming off a Week 2 performance in which he rushed for just 21 yards on 12 carries. He feels he’s still getting used to New York's shotgun, zone-blocking offense. Johnson was in a more traditional pro set system his first six seasons with Tennessee. Johnson called the transition “a work in progress.”

The Jets struggled against the Packers after Decker went down.

“We just didn’t execute quite as well,” Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “And I’ve got to do a better job of putting guys in a position [to succeed].”

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

#21 RB
New York Jets

2014 STATS

  • Rush25
  • Yds89

  • TD0

  • Rec6

  • Yds23

  • TD1

You also have to wonder whether this could be a breakout game for tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro, who saw just three targets, combined, from quarterback Geno Smith this past Sunday.

As for Smith’s progress, Mornhinweg said, “I think he was playing fantastic for much of the [Green Bay] game. There’s four or five plays there that I told him if we can minimize that to one or two plays, then we’ll be in great shape. And I’ve told him this. I flat out told him, ‘Look, we love the way you’re playing ball.’ Some of it’s experience. Some of it is more reps with that specific play. And I’m talking just a few plays a game. Otherwise, he’s playing at a high level.”

• Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman referred to Chicago’s big and tall receivers -- Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) -- as NBA small forwards. (OK, so they need a couple more inches, but you get the point.)

That being said, Jets coach Rex Ryan still thinks “press” coverage is the way to go when covering the duo.

“I think press coverage is an ideal way to play because you can get your hands on them, and you’re not giving them free access down the field,” Ryan said. “So that’s probably an ideal way to play it. but again, if [one of them] gets on top of you, you’re in trouble.”