New York Jets 2011 Backfield Taking Shape

Tuesday was a day filled with news on the New York Jets running back position. From the various beat reports surrounding the team, we learned three things —

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson will be back in 2011 to finish out his contract.
  2. Despite returning, Tomlinson will be used in more of a complimentary role, with Shonn Greene becoming the feature back and Joe McKnight receiving more work on offense.
  3. John Conner will be the starting fullback in 2011.

None of these items of news are surprising and are logical decisions considering the age of everybody involved and how last season finished.

It is smart to bring Tomlinson back to maintain depth in the backfield. He is a valuable leader on the offense and is an excellent security blanket for Mark Sanchez. However, he shouldn’t be receiving anywhere near the number of carries he did last year as he faded pretty strongly down the stretch and is only getting older. Tomlinson can be a very valuable weapon in a complimentary role but it is Shonn Greene’s turn to really get a shot at being the feature back.

Considering Greene’s rushing style, he needs to be given 15-20 carries on a weekly basis to be the most effective. He never received that chance in 2010. Let’s see him get around 20 carries on a weekly basis so we can find out if he is our feature back of the future.

Joe McKnight was a major disappointment in his first year but the Jets held on to him because he was a fourth round pick. He gave the team some hope with his performance in week 17 but it is time to see what he can bring to this offense. Hopefully he is going to be the Jets long term third down/change of pace back and now he will gradually have the role handed to him from Tomlinson.

At fullback, the writing was on the wall for John Conner to take over for Tony Richardson when the season ended. Conner got a full year learning behind one of the best in the business at his position and should be ready to start now. Richardson, a class act and true professional, will likely now retire after a long, successful NFL career.

Give us something next year, McKnight

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 EVP of Content at Whistle Sports