Shonn Greene still has not truly asserted himself as a full time lead back for the New York Jets, yet he is slowly moving in that direction. His continued movement in that direction will go a long way to determining whether or not this football team will make the playoffs.
Greene has taken slack for not being durable but so far he has missed only 3 quarters of football this season and is currently playing effectively through a rib injury. LaDainian Tomlinson is banged up with knee issues and Joe McKnight has a hyperextended elbow. Rookie running back Bilal Powell didn’t look ready to be a contributor when he received a chance earlier in the year. Without question, it is looking like the Jets are going to need Greene to carry the load like the lead back they talked him up to be all off-season.
Against Washington, he finished with 88 yards on 22 carries with 3 touchdowns and also added 3 receptions for 26 yards, including a huge third down conversion late in the game. Greene has quietly improved substantially as a receiver, pulling in 23 catches so far this year.
This past Sunday was the fifth time in six games that he averaged at least four yards per carry as he continued a career trend of improving as it gets deeper in the season. We all know the Jets offense thrives when they are working off a power rushing attack. It will be Greene who has to answer that call with 18-22 carries each week now with Tomlinson and McKnight’s health being a question mark.
A strong finish will go a long way to the Jets deciding to commit to Greene long term as their number one back, instead of exploring other options via free agency or the draft. Greene is carrying both his future with the team and their playoff hopes in these next four games.