Diner morning news: Jets still in the race

QUOTE: “You cannot perform in a manner inconsistent with the way you see yourself.” -- Zig Ziglar

Thursday night, the Jets played the kind of game they must play for the next four weeks if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs. They protected the ball, didn’t turn it over, featured their powerful running game (thereby controlling the ball) and played well on defense. In essence, they forced the Bills to beat them this time instead of giving them the game with their own mistakes. The Bills are too small on defense and too ineffective in the offensive line to win games unless they can create turnovers with a consistent effort. If the Bills can’t get a big play down the field with a long throw or a big run, they struggle to be consistent with their line play to drive down the field. The Bills are not an easy team to beat because of their effort, but if teams protect the ball and force them to drive the ball, the Bills won’t win.

Can the Jets win the next four games? With the Bucs, Falcons Colts and Bengals left to play, they might be able to run the table, especially if the Titans beat the Colts this weekend. With a loss, the Colts will be more inclined to rest Peyton Manning. If they do, then this should be an easy win for the Jets. As is often is the case in the NFL, one game affects other games. So besides rooting for Miami this weekend, the Jets have to pull hard for the Titans.

A Giant problem?

There seems to be a difference of opinion of how physical the Giants have been on their defensive line this season. Here’s what defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan had to say: “We have been very inconsistent in our physical play, sure. The players know that. They watch the same film and hear the same critiques every day when we watch film. We are just not consistently physical. There are times where we knock the dirt out of people and have guys flying around and getting tackles in the backfield. But other times we don't have it.” However, defensive end Justin Tuck disagrees, saying he feels that he’s played the game at a very high physical level all season. Who’s right? Based on the tape against the Broncos, there’s no doubt -- Sheridan is right.

In the Denver game, the Broncos made it their mantra to run the ball right at Osi Umenyiora. Each week, when preparing for an opponent, the good coaches I’ve been around have a theme for the week based on a player who may be perceived as great but isn’t playing well on tape. Bill Belichick was the best at being able to break down the opponent from the players to the scheme and then build his theme. Not having been with Josh McDaniels, I’m not sure he has the same ability to analyze an opponent, but I know he has a theme each week. And during Giants week, he wanted to attack Umenyiora in the run game with a physical style of play and wear him down, making him less effective rushing the passer. In the game, the Broncos ran the ball 31 times at Umenyiora, who failed to make a tackle. The Broncos did what many other teams in the NFL have been doing, which is attack the smaller Umenyiora with a physical style of play. Teams have run the ball 111 times to their left, right at Umenyiora, gaining over 500 yards.

Umenyiora is a good player, but like great basketball players who are only interested in scoring and not playing defense, he’s not very effective defending the run or playing a physical style. He is best rushing the passer, when he can use his speed and athletic talent to make plays. This week, the Giants will use Mathias Kiwanuka on run downs instead of Umenyiora to give their defense a more physical presence. When you watch this game, notice how many times the Cowboys run left and how the Giants fare stopping them.

I’m off to cover the Saints and Redskins this weekend for NFL Network. Watching Drew Brees in person will be a great. Check back for the Sunday Post and enjoy the big college games this weekend.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

To read more about Buffalo's offensive struggles in the second half last night, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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