Breece Hall is going to fight for extra yards between the tackles, not fight back against a challenge from his coach.
After Jets head coach Robert Saleh said this week that “there’s the grimy yards that a back has to understand that he needs to get” instead of looking for the big play on every carry, Hall said he was OK with being “called out” when the entire offense is an eyesore.
“I just took it as, if you can’t call out your best players on offense then you can’t really call out anybody,” Hall said after Thursday’s practice.
“I said last week that I take pride in being an ‘A’ player, so if I get called out, you can’t get in your feelings about it or you can’t be sad about it. It just is what it is: You have to be better.”
Hall is second in the NFL with three 40-plus yard runs, but he has been held to 50 rushing yards or fewer (2.7 per carry) in four straight losses.
He has scored three of the Jets’ four offensive touchdowns in the past six games.
“Every back probably has some yards they left out there that they wish they could have back — and I do,” Hall said. “But I’m going out there every week trying to play my best, trying to put us in a position to win.”
Saleh wants the “special talent” Hall to turn 2-3-yard runs into 4-5-yard runs by “lowering your shoulder, getting dirty, getting grimy, finishing runs and not trying to find ways to bounce and make people miss at the line of scrimmage all the time.”
The Jets have not yet redistributed carries from Hall to Dalvin Cook or rookie Israel Abanikanda to find a hot hand.
“Across the board, I think everybody is pressing a little bit,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “Breece is sometimes looking for a big-hitter, trying to spring that downfield 80-yard touchdown that he’s totally capable of. But those come within those small-yardage plays first — being able to lower your pads and get downhill.”
The challenge before Hall is similar to what the Giants laid out for home-run hitter Saquon Barkley under similar circumstances — pick up the slack for a team averaging the third-fewest points in the league (14.8) — early in the two-time Pro Bowler’s career.
“It’s hard, especially when you know the potential that you can have with our great defense and the potential that our offense has,” Hall said. “It gets to a point where if you are not moving the ball, you are trying to make a play.
You have to stay true to what you do — the foundation of the offense — and keep chipping away at it.”
So, is a 4-yard run considered a success?
“Yeah, it’s always good,” Hall said, “because if you average 4 yards then it’s 4, 8 and the next 4 is a first down, so you can’t ever complain about that at all.”