New York Jets: Why Rex Ryan Must Put More Emphasis on Passing Game in 2012

Ted Lee@@RealLedTeeCorrespondent IJune 20, 2012

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets talk on the field prior to playing against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After an underachieving season in which they struggled offensively, the Jets and Rex Ryan must change the offensive play-calling to become more effective.

Finishing the 2011 season with an 8-8 record, everything that could go wrong with the Jets did go wrong. Team chemistry took a downturn with locker room turmoil, and the team's performance on the field was affected.

Starters on the offensive side of the ball that were expected to help the team to the playoffs didn't play up to expectations of years past and affected their teammates play as well. 

2011 was a year to forget for the Jets, and they have many reasons to be optimistic going into the 2012 season. With the defense still a strong part of the team, the focus will be on the offense and how the squad will bounce back from a season in which they struggled to find rhythm. 

The Jets ranked 22nd in the league in rushing yards per game with only 105.8. and 30th in yards per attempt with 3.8, making the Jets' rushing attack one of the weakest in the league. With only 92 rushing first downs all season in 2011 that ranked 18th in the league, the rushing game made it a lot harder on Mark Sanchez to produce first downs through the air. Without an established rushing attack, Sanchez and the Jets struggled to move the ball down the field.

Running backs Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight failed to contribute significantly to the team, and it hurt the performance of a team whose offensive scheme is to run.

There was a silver lining however, as Sanchez still managed to produce his best season to date, regardless of his 18 interceptions in 2011. 

Improving his completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns, Sanchez showed that he is capable of finally being a quarterback that can lead an offense. 

With Greene and McKnight set to return in 2012, Rex Ryan must change his offensive game plan if he hopes to compete in the upcoming season. Ryan must put more emphasis on the passing game since Sanchez has improved and the rushing attack struggled last year.

Because the rushing attack struggled last season, it failed to create effective play action passes and establish a solid passing game. With more emphasis on Sanchez and passing, opponents' defenses will open up, allowing Greene and McKnight to rush more effectively. This will in turn produce more first downs and have more opportunities in the red zone, effectively moving the ball down the field. 

Sanchez has shown that he's capable of making the passes with an effective play action, and with a struggling duo of running backs, this may be Ryan's best shot of reviving a lackluster offense.

It's time for Sanchez to prove everyone he is the man in New York, and it's time for Ryan to give him a shot.

If the Jets want any chance of making the playoffs in 2012, Ryan must put the passing game as the No.1 priority instead of his run first mindset.