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Ryan eyes improvement from Jets' ground game

The SportsXchange

Quarterback isn't the only skill position at which the New York Jets have a brewing controversy.

However, as a third-round draft pick in 2009 who didn't become a full-time starter until this season, Shonn Greene doesn't have the cache of Mark Sanchez. And as a fourth-round pick in 2011 who saw a mere 14 touches as a rookie, Bilal Powell certainly doesn't possess the "Q" rating of Tim Tebow.

Still, for all the attention Sanchez and Tebow are getting, the Jets' offensive woes begin with an inability to run the ball.

With 217 yards on 76 carries (2.9 yards per carry) this year, Greene has been perhaps the NFL's least-effective starter. He's fallen into a timeshare of sorts with Powell, the third-down back who has impressed the coaching staff with his blocking ability even if he hasn't done much more than Greene with the ball in his hands (117 yards on 30 carries, 3.9-yard average).

Any chance the Jets have of reviving the offense rests on Greene and Powell getting untracked Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Coach Rex Ryan is confident the duo can begin providing the production the Jets have been missing all season.

"There's no magic scheme to try to run," Ryan said Thursday. "We've just got to block, we've got to open things up and get some running room. That's the main thing ... that's what we're working on. I know we're working on it, and I think we'll see improvements. I do."

Ryan defended Greene, whom he identified as a "bell-cow" back following the offseason retirement of LaDainian Tomlinson, and said he believes Greene is close to breaking off some big runs that will lessen the pressure the Jets are feeling. However, he added that he'd prefer to rotate backs and optimally would even like to have a three-back attack.

"Powell has really earned a right to play, I don't think there's any doubt about that," Ryan said. "He's been absolutely tremendous in pass protection -- I mean, absolutely tremendous. And he's shown some ability to run. In an ideal world, you have two or three guys that you can feel really good about.

"Have I lost faith in Shonn Greene? The answer is no. I think we just keep giving him the ball. He's working extremely hard, and I just think it's a matter of time before he really starts popping. And we all know once he starts rolling that the confidence (of) the whole team is lifted when your big back is running."
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