First a few updates:
1. Check out the new updated “About Turn On The Jets” section…and remember to follow TOJ on Facebook, Twitter, and now YouTube.
2. Take a listen to my apperance on Marty Schupak’s Green Rewind, here (http://web.me.com/greenrewind/Site/Podcasts/Podcasts.html). Marty and myself primarily talk about the Jets defense but also spend a little time on the Darrelle Revis contract situation along with a few other things.
3. An interview I read today on NYJ Scout had an interview with Dwight Lowery, with him talking about getting more reps at safety this off-season. This is a move that has frequently been talked about by fans, considering Lowery’s lack of physical abilities to play corner full time but good ball instincts. It will be interesting to see if Lowery can get a good number of reps in the nickel or dime package as a safety.
Jets Area Of Concern – Running Back
Contrary to the belief of some fans, the Jets roster isn’t perfect. Like any team in the NFL, they have multiple areas of concern throughout their roster heading into the 2010 season. Today is our first look at one of these areas, the running back position:
Shonn Greene certainly looked the part of a number one back in the wild-card and divisional round of the playoffs last season. However, don’t be fooled into thinking two games is adequate proof that Greene is ready to be a full time number one back. My concerns about him are primarily his durability, fumbling issue, and lack of hands out of the backfield. A closer look at this statistics last season, also raise questions about his ability to be a full time starter for a 16 game schedule.
Greene was a player who had injury issues in college and encountered similar problems in his rookie season. He missed time with an ankle injury and rib injury in the pre-season, had a banged up shoulder during the regular season, and then was knocked out of the AFC Championship with another rib injury. Obviously, not an encouraging sign considering he was far from a number one back until the playoff run, where he was knocked out after two games. How will he handle 20 carries a game for an entire regular season?
Despite only having 108 total carries in the regular season, Greene had three lost fumbles. He also lost another one in week 17 that was called back. If he gets the 331 carries Thomas Jones had last season and keeps up that type of fumble rate, it translates into 9 lost fumbles. His lack of hands was also evident in the passing game, where between the entire regular season and postseason, he only recorded 1 reception for 4 yards. Nobody is saying he has to become a major pass catching threat, but he needs to be a reliable outlet option and catch a screen pass every now and then, so it isn’t obvious when the offense could run a screen by pulling him out for LaDainian Tomlinson or Joe McKnight.
After Greene’s breakout performance against the Raiders in week 8, he followed with four concerning performances:
- 8 carries, 18 yards, 1 lost fumble against Miami
- 7 carries, 26 yards, against Jacksonville
- 3 carries, -1 yards, against New England
- 10 carries, 36 yards, against Carolina
Fortunately, he picked up his play down the stretch run of the season and began to perform with more consistency regardless of the number of carries he was getting. The main thing to remember with Greene is that the guy only had 108 regular season carries last year. It is far from a sure thing that he handle 300 plus carries and put up a 1200 yard type season. The talent is certainly there, but Greene has to stay healthy, protect the football, and become a more consistent player.
The depth behind Shonn Greene is an even larger cause for concern. We all saw LaDainian Tomlinson play last season and it wasn’t pretty. He didn’t register a single 100 yard game. He only averaged more than 4 yards per carry in 2 games the entire season. He only ran for more than 70 yards in 4 games. I understand he will be playing behind a much better offensive line and he is motivated to prove he still has something left in the tank. However, the Jets would be foolish to think he can give them 12-15 carries a game on a consistent basis. Tomlinson could be a successful player for the Jets, only if he used in proper moderation. You let him spell Greene a series or two each half. You give him short yardage/goal-line carries. You throw him screen and swing passes a few times a game. Tomlinson can give them a productive 10 touches a game next year, if properly game planned. If Shonn Greene gets hurt though, they could be in big trouble.
Joe McKnight is an unproven, rookie fourth round draft pick. I think he can contribute early in the year as a pass catcher out of the backfield and in the slot. Yet, by all accounts he has a long way to go before he is ready to be counted on as a third down back or for significant numbers of carries. A Shonn Greene injury leaves the Jets with a scary prospect of splitting carries between Tomlinson and McKnight.
For a team known for their “ground and pound” approach in 2009. The Jets have an awfully high amount of questions about their running back position. They could be one injury away from very quickly becoming a pass first offense, which is an easy temptation to fall into because of their talent at receiver and tight end. Yet, forcing Mark Sanchez to throw that ball that often could lead to some ugly, turnover filled performances that don’t let the Jets defense win them football games.
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