New York Jets: What Is The Verdict On Shonn Greene?

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We have discussed Shonn Greene and his validity as a lead back in the New York Jets offense at length this off-season here at Turn On The Jets. However, a recent article and series of Tweets from Evan Silva, a senior NFL editor at Rotoworld and a contributor to Pro Football Talk has reopened the debate amongst Jets fans. Here is a sampling of the Tweets from Silva after watching game film of Jets vs. Chiefs, Jets vs. Dolphins (week 6) and Jets vs. Raiders in the 2011 season.

“Shonn Greene even worse than expected. Leaves so many yards on field. Not an NFL starter, to me.”

“Very little short area burst/acceleration. Takes forever to reach top speed. No chance to get corner. Runs like he’s stuck in mud.”

“Constantly buried at LOS. Lacks power to push pile. Runs small for big man. Slow feet. Zero quicks.”

Sticking by players like Greene and Wayne Hunter – pretending they are good – gets front offices cleaned out. Coming soon to Jets”

First off, let’s be clear that like the rest of the PFT staff, Silva has never seen a Jets player, front office member or coach that he has liked. He sums up Mark Sanchez simply as being “Not good. Weak arm. Scared to challenge deep and frenetic in the pocket.”

A few weeks ago the only thing he discussed about Darrelle Revis was how Stevie Johnson had his way with him, continuing the fallacy of people throwing out Johnson averages against the Jets and incorporating his 2010 stats pertaining to Revis. It must be noted that every catch he had against the Jets in 2010 was not against Revis, go back and watch the film. Johnson had one good game against Revis in 2011, when he had 8 catches for 75 and a touchdown in the team’s second meeting. In their first meeting, he had one very nice sideline catch for 52 yards after the Jets were up by two touchdowns in the second half and beyond that did nothing.

You have to be constantly amazed at how the PFT staff thinks everybody associated with a team that is 28-20 with 4 playoff wins over the past three seasons is just so awful. What was the explanation when Greene, Sanchez and Hunter were all starters in a playoff win over New England in 2010 because those are the kind of things that get front offices extended, not cleaned out. Contrary to popular belief, the Jets didn’t go 4-12 last year, they went 8-8.

Regardless, despite Silva’s seeming lack of love for the Green and White. He is a good writer and somebody that is a necessary follow for any NFL fan. I do think he makes a few points worth considering when it comes to Greene, although he exaggerates his shortcomings.

For Greene defenders, you have to be lying to yourself if you claim to be satisfied with his level of production the past two years. Expectations for Greene were rightfully high after his monster showing in the 2009 playoffs. Yet, here are some very alarming numbers -

  • His three highest rushing totals in a single game came in 2009 (144 yards vs. Oakland, 135 yards vs Cincinnati, 128 yards vs. San Diego)
  • The three longest runs of his career came in the 2009 season (53 yards vs San Diego, 39 yards vs Cincinnati, 33 yards vs. Oakland)
  • Greene has only had 3 100+ yard games in the 2010 and 2011 season combined
  • He has one…one run over 30 yards since the end of the 2009 season
  • If you take away the Washington game last season when Greene scored 3 touchdowns, he has 5 touchdowns in his last 32 regular season starts…a little over one every six games.

Those numbers don’t lie. He was outplayed the majority of the 2010 season by LaDainian Tomlinson and had a decent 2011 season as the primary back. I have watched every game from last season twice and Greene did consistently leave yards on the field, very rarely made anybody miss, and didn’t break the amount of tackles you’d expect for somebody his size. The blocking of his offensive line did leave something to be desired at times, but overall Greene is generally a back who gets what is blocked for him and nothing more. The explosiveness we saw in 2009 was not consistently there.

However, last season Greene did overcome a very sluggish start and put together a more encouraging second half of the season that indicates his potential value in 2012. Look at how he turned it up after week 6 -

  • Weeks 1-6: 93 carries, 314 yards, 3.3 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns
  • Weeks 7-17: 160 carries, 740 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 4 touchdowns

It was the second season in a row that Greene started painfully slow, which doesn’t speak well to his off-season workout habits. He appears to be a player who needs to work his way into shape during the season. Most people assume that Greene is a player who gets better with more carries per game, and the splits represent that to an extent. When looking at last season (note he missed the majority of the Denver game with an injury and only had 3 carries) -

  • 20-25 carries – 97.2 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry (5 games)
  • 15-20 carries – 76.5 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry (4 games)
  • 10-15 carries – 50.1 yards per game, 4.0 yards per carry (6 games)

You are going to get more out of Greene by giving him 15+ carries, a half yard more per carry. When you look at the ceiling for him, let’s say he gets 18 carries a game because there is no discernible difference in his production when he gets between 15-20 carries and 20-25 carries and the Jets will want to get Joe McKnight and Tim Tebow their share of rushing attempts. 18 carries a game brings him to 288 on the season which will give him 1,296 yards (if he maintains the 4.5 YPC from last season in games he had between 15-25 carries). Considering his scoring rate from the past few years and the presence of Tebow around the goal-line, it is probably safe to say his max is 7 touchdowns in 2012.

A ceiling of 288 carries, 1,296 yards and 7 touchdowns isn’t awful, even if he falls a little below his ceiling and ends up with say: 250 carries, 1,075 yards and 5 touchdowns that could be enough for the Jets if McKnight is productive and Tebow brings a dynamic element to the running game.

Greene isn’t great but he certainly isn’t anywhere near awful enough to be a major factor in cleaning out the Jets front office as Silva suggests. What could get the front office cleared out? Greene getting hurt and the Jets Ground and Pound getting handed off to the trio of Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway

  • wilaim

    i disagree about the Joe McKnight comment in the end there.i think McKnight could be much better then green any given day.Greene sucks plain and simple.we should have kept Thomas Jones over this bone head.too bad LT decided to retire ha could still have run circles around greene.

  • jetsjerk

    Put Tebow and Green in full and half back with McNight as opt/relief and groom ganaway. The Hogs Are Back!

  • P Dubbz (Pete)

    @wilaim good point genius, aside from the fact that L.T. DIDN’T run circles around Greene last season which is why he hardly got any carries since he was clearly finished, as was Thomas Jones after he left the Jets so both of your points are completely off base buddy…the point people are missing is the fact that we don’t need a workhorse back and that young backs are the more successful backs in the league, as plenty of guys have breakout rookie years or breakout years after being an unknown prior to that year…

    I think McKnight will easily pick up the change of pace/3rd down back role as long as he can pass protect since Greene clearly can’t, and I think Ganaway will contribute with Greene as our early down power backs…Powell and/or Griffin also have chances of contributing…remember at one time Arian Foster was a UDFA, and for less extreme examples guys like LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, etc. Were relative unknowns as mid to late round picks (or in Blount’s case another UDFA) prior to their breakout seasons

    The most successful teams build through the draft, which is what the Jets need to do if they plan on winning a Super Bowl any time soon, obviously signing washed up vets or wasted trades for the majority of recent years hasn’t worked out as an overall strategy since they haven’t won a championship in 40 years…time to trust the young guys and let them get the job done

  • keith

    We should of signed HILLIS! We could of had him for 3 million bucks for the year! Hillis Green McKnight now that would of been a true Ground & Pound.

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