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The secret’s out on Jets’ Brad Smith

First of four breakdowns on the first round of the NFL playoffs:

Mr. Everything

Jets Coach Rex Ryan wants to take pressure off rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. One way to accomplish that is to find alternate -- and sometimes novel -- ways to move the ball, other than throwing it.

New York has that in Brad Smith, who played quarterback at Missouri and is now listed as a receiver behind Braylon Edwards. Smith has played all sorts of roles for the Jets this season, scoring on a 32-yard option run against the Bengals, a week after returning a kickoff 106 yards against the Colts -- the longest scoring play in Jets history. Smith ran for 92 yards in four carries against the Bengals.

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The difference in recent weeks?

“We started giving him the ball,” Ryan said. “He’s always had the ability. He’s such a weapon. He can pass the ball, too. Maybe we’ll find that out one of these days.”

Smith has an expanded role in which he’ll line up under center, in the shotgun, even in the “pistol” -- when he lines up about three yards behind center with a tailback behind him. The pistol enables the Jets to still have a “downhill” running attack but without the quarterback under center.

Benson is back

The Bengals and Jets are actually quite similar. They’re both built around running the ball and playing sound defense. Although the Bengals did neither well in Sunday night’s finale, that was an anomaly. Cincinnati had the fourth-ranked defense this season under coordinator Mike Zimmer, and finished in the top seven against the run and pass.

As far as running the ball against the Jets, the Bengals rested Cedric Benson, their top rusher, who ran for 1,251 yards in just 13 games. That’s no small consideration.

Asked about Benson sitting out, Coach Marvin Lewis said: “I’m not going to say any player would have made a difference. We got beat today.”

USC quarterbacks

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A 2009 statistical comparison of Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer and the Jets’ Mark Sanchez, both former USC quarterbacks:

PalmerSanchez
16Starts15
60.5Completion %53.8
3,094Yards2,444
21 TD passes12
13Interceptions20
26Sacked26
39-93Runs-yards36-106
83.6QB rating63.0

Injury to watch

Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco underwent an MRI test on his sore left knee Monday, having tweaked it when he slipped on the Meadowlands turf during warmups. He tweeted that he can’t extend his knee and compared the Jets’ field to “a mini ice skating rink outside the hashes.”

The outspoken receiver has a bruised ego, too, after Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis held him without a catch in one half of play.

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Another view

Mike Mayock, scouting expert for the NFL Network, on the Bengals’ losing so badly Sunday night: “They looked to me, especially with the cold weather and how many passes were dropped in the first quarter, the way they got gashed in the wildcat, they looked like a group of players who said all the right things about competing, but who in their heart of hearts just wanted to get home and get ready for the playoffs. I felt bad for Carson Palmer. Guys must have dropped four or five of his passes. To me, they were clearly a team that packed it in right away. I don’t think you can read much into that game.”

Stats comparison

JETSBENGALS
Points scored21.8 (17)19.1 (22)
Points allowed14.8 (1)18.2 (6)
Pass offense148.8 (31)180.6 (26)
Rush offense 172.2 (1)128.5 (9)
Pass defense153.7 (1)203.1 (6)
Rush defense98.6 (8)98.3 (7)
Turnover ratio+1 (17)0 (18)
Sacks32 (18T)34 (16T)

* NEXT: PHILADELPHIA AT DALLAS

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer


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