Who Will Lead the Ground and Pound in 2011?

In his end of the year press conference, Mike Tannenbaum left the door open for LaDainian Tomlinson being potentially released before the 2011 season starts. As of now, I would still stay it sounds more likely that Tomlinson will be back to finish out his contract with the New York Jets but this team hasn’t been shy about cutting veterans as the season approaches in the past.

Under the assumption that Tomlinson is back in 2011, it would have to be in a reduced role which is something Tomlinson himself said he would be open to in a recent interview. Shonn Greene was never really given the chance to shine as a feature back because of a fast start by Tomlinson and a fumble in week one by Greene.

Considering the type of back Greene is, he needs more carries to be at his best. He has the ability to wear down a defense and remain strong into the fourth quarter of a game. Unfortunately, Greene was only given more than 20 carries once all season and had 12 or less carries in nine games.

In 2011, Greene needs to be in the 17-22 carry range, week in and week out to see if he can be the 1,200 yard back we all think he is capable of being. There also needs to be a role for Joe McKnight in the offense this season. I am aware what a let-down he was in 2010 but he did show potential against Buffalo in week 17 and there is no question he has talent as both a runner and receiver.

Personally, I am all for Tomlinson coming back in 2011. Yet, it needs to be as the team’s primary third down back and as a guy who occasionally spells Greene for a series or two. He shouldn’t be getting more than 8-10 touches a game on offense, considering McKnight should get a shot unless he falls flat on his face in pre-season again. The Jets would be too thin at running back if they let Tomlinson walk, unless of course they could find a way to get Chauncey Washington or Danny Woodhead back.

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports