Jets will rely on Pennington, Martin to win

Updated: December 31, 2004, 4:35 PM ET
By Merril Hoge | ESPN Insider
The New York Jets have a tough game ahead of them against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams found the key to winning last week, pounding the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

All season the Rams have confounded everyone by staying with a pass-first philosophy that doesn't seem to work. Somehow coach Mike Martz realized his team's way to victory lay in setting up the pass with the run, and they dominated the Eagles in the trenches.

This Rams' team has the components to run the ball successfully, with All-Pro RB Marshall Faulk and rookie RB Steven Jackson carrying the ball. But Martz has fallen in love with his passing game due to its past successes. Before last week he didn't seem to realize – or failed to acknowledge – that his team is best suited for a run-first philosophy. Now that he gets it, the Jets could have a much tougher game on their hands than I would've previously thought.

Former NFL fullback Merril Hoge is an analyst for a wide variety of NFL programs on television and ESPN Radio. An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent 1987-93 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and joined ESPN in 1996.