Bills vs. Jets: Stopping The Run Of Utmost Importance For Buffalo

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Shonn Greene #23 of the New York Jets runs past Antoine Cason #20 of the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

The numbers have been eye-popping since Rex Ryan took over as head coach of the New York Jets: in their last four meetings against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets have run for (in order) 318, 249, 273 and 276 yards.

Even though the Bills actually managed to win one of those games - the first one, aided by five interceptions from then-rookie Mark Sanchez - the team's defensive displays against the Jets in the Ryan era have been downright pathetic. It's going to take something extraordinary - like, say, five picks - to remain competitive against an opponent when you're giving up an average of 279 rushing yards per game.

But things have been different for the Jets in 2011. One of the league's best running offenses in 2009 (No. 1 overall, 172.2 yards per game) and 2010 (No. 4 overall, 148.4 yards per game) has fallen to the bottom of the league.

In their first six games of the season - in which they started 2-0, lost three straight, and then beat winless Miami - the Jets averaged a highly pedestrian 81 rushing yards per game. They were nicked up along the offensive line and in the backfield, and while the running game struggled, Sanchez (55.8 percent completions) couldn't pick up the slack.

Even after a 162-yard rushing effort in Week 7 against San Diego - an effort paced by a healthier Shonn Greene, who is clearly the Jets' best runner - New York is still only averaging 92.4 rushing yards per game. That ranks them No. 28 in the league, and a far cry from what they've been for the past two seasons.

Still, that performance against San Diego - and, really, their performance the week prior against Miami - has the Jets trending back towards their normal selves in the running game. What's more, both San Diego (No. 17) and Miami (No. 13) are ranked higher defending the run than Buffalo (No. 19), who made a massive jump up the rankings after holding Washington to just 26 yards rushing.

The precedent, however, is set: the Jets have run at will against Buffalo in Ryan's tenure, and they'll likely try to continue that trend. The Jets aren't unbeatable if they can run at will, but they're pretty darn close. If Marcell Dareus and the Bills want to make good on their goals of staying unbeaten in the division and at home, they're going to have to make very fast, very marked improvements in shutting down the Jets' ground game.

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