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Jets have moved away from 'Ground and Pound'

The days of "Ground and Pound" seem like a distant memory for the Jets, who are passing more than ever in the Mark Sanchez era.

New York has run the ball on just 38 percent of its offensive plays through three weeks, which feels like an episode of "The Twilight Zone" when you remember who the Jets' head coach is. This is the same team that ran the ball an NFL-high 607 times (59 percent of the time) in Sanchez's rookie season in 2009.

"Not to say the run game is not as important, it just becomes a little more balanced," running back LaDainian Tomlinson told The Star-Ledger in Sunday's edition. "Rather than being so much dominant run when you have a young quarterback, that quarterback now evolves into what you want him to become, where you can open your playbook more. And that's why we have more balance."

Tomlinson is a perfect example of New York's philosophy shift. For the second consecutive season, it appears the veteran back will have a bigger role in the offense than expected, and the Jets' pass-happy attack has everything to do with it. Tomlinson's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield gives him a dimension starting running back Shonn Greene simply doesn't possess.

A big part of the team's new philosophy is due to a trust in Mark Sanchez and what he can do in his third season in the system. The Jets can carry up to 70 pass concepts into a game now, up from the 40 to 45 Sanchez worked off earlier in his career. Sanchez has already gone over 300 yards twice this season, something he did only two times in his career prior to 2011.

"The first few years, there was a swinging door of quarterbacks," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said of his run with the Jets. "What you are seeing now, the coaching staff has been together in its third year, the quarterback is coming along in his third year of the system, and we can execute at a high level in the passing game. But in no way, shape or form do we see ourselves as the 2000 Rams. We are trying to be balanced."

The Jets certainly look different than the past few seasons, but the jury's out if throwing the ball around has made them a better team. The new philosophy faces a huge challenge on Sunday night against the Ravens.

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