Jets want to use deep receding depth to wear out opposing defenses

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As the sun peeked out of the clouds and temperatures approached 90 degrees on Friday, Jets head coach Robert Saleh allowed himself a minute to reflect on his team playing meaningful games in the cold.

Those thoughts turned to using running backs Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Tevin Coleman — and perhaps a few others — to move the chains and wear down a defense.

“Especially when it gets cold in this area, you have to be able to run football,” Saleh said. “If you’re trying to play playoff football and take those next steps, you have to be able to crush it. You have to be able to run in the red zone, you have to be able to run it in close range situations, you have to have success with the football even if it has turned into a passing league.”

The Jets, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry over the last eight games last season, signed free agent Laken Tomlinson and drew “all-round back” Hall in the second round to further boost their backfield production. They look for good run-blocking receivers because that is necessary within their tight attacking formations.

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Breece Hall participates in drills at Jets training camp.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post
Michael Carter
Michael Carter
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

“I thought we were pretty good at running last year, especially late,” Saleh said, “and I feel like it has a chance to be good again.”

With speedster Ty Johnson on the shelf, even uneducated rookie Zonovan Knight is looking to file a claim and finish practice Friday with a long touchdown run for the third-team attack. Saleh sees the running back room – including choices in three straight drafts featuring Hall, 2021 fourth-rounder Carter and 2020 fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine – as complementary.

“Michael has great versatility, Breece is a three-down player, Tevin has such an explosive running style,” Saleh said. “Ty has three-down ability, then you add in Zonovan… and Perine’s big body and the ability to break through tackles and push piles. It’s a really cool group of players, and I’m excited to see how it develops in the coming weeks.”

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Tevin Coleman catches a pass.
Tevin Coleman catches a pass.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Saleh resisted the idea that Perine is a forgotten man.

“He understands the script much better and he does it better at his job” [pass] protection, which was a big part of [a diminished role] last year,” Saleh says. “That group is in a very, very competitive place in terms of all bringing something to the table.”


When defensive line men Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers ravaged the offensive line on Friday, it was easy to imagine a situation where the Jets don’t have to blitz to pressure the quarterback. Saleh’s thoughts went back to the Giants’ victory in Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, when he was a young NFL assistant for the Texans who was still “trying to figure out how to tie his shoelaces.”

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“The best way to defend is with a four-man pass rush,” Saleh said. “The Giants versus [Tom] Brady proved it. If you can drop seven guys into cover and four guys feel like there’s constant pressure, that’s the most consistent way to play defense.

“Each game is independent of itself and depending on how that D-line plays and the amount of pressure we get we’ll dictate accordingly.”


NFL Network stopped at Jets practice and interviewed rookie pass rusher Jermaine Johnson about RT Mekhi Becton.

“It’s big — like two refrigerators — so you have to figure out a good way to do that,” Johnson said. “That’s his superpower and he does a lot of great things with that.”

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