This is part 1 of the Jets best players over the past 25 years. We will be going position group by position group in addition to front office, owner, coaching staff and even stadium and training camp locations.. Their have been lots of ups and downs over the past 25 years but this will highlight the great players as well as the fan favorites and best moves. This week we will start with the stacked position of Running Back.
Starting Running Back:Curtis Martin – Curtis Martin is not only the Jets best running back of all time, but one of their 3-4 best players ever. He is one of the greatest and most consistent runners of the football in the history of the NFL. Martin personified class, elegance, and hard work as a player. The eleven-year veteran spent eight years with gang green totaling almost thirteen thousand all-purpose yards, sixty-eight total touchdowns, to go along with three pro bowls, one all pro first team, and a rushing title in his last full season. Martin retired as the NFL’s 4th leading rusher and 7th all-time in all-purpose yards, as well as the Franchise’s leader in rushing yards. Martin has a case to be crowned best Jet ever and rightfully has his famous number 28 retired in green.
Stats: 123 Games – 2560 Carries – 10,302 Rushing Yards – 58 Touchdowns – 367 Catches – 2439 Yards – 5 Touchdowns.
Playoffs: 7 Games, 778 Total Yards – 3 Touchdown
Awards: 3 Pro Bowls, 4 Time Team MVP, 1st Team All Pro (2004), 1 Rushing Title (1,697 Yards in 2004)Best Homegrown Talent:
Shonn Greene: Greene was a 3rd round pick out Iowa by the Jets in 2009 and was a key part of the ground and pound offense under Rex Ryan. In 2009, he was a very serviceable backup to Thomas Jones and had a great playoff run, capping it off with a 53-yard touchdown run to defeat the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round. He assumed starter duties in 2010 and will always be known as a big-time performer, with his most memorable moment being the run to seal the victory in one of the best playoff upsets of the decade, beating the patriots. Greene will always be known for those playoff runs as major contributor of two of the best Jets teams the past 25 years.
Stats: 4 Seasons: Regular Season – 822 Carries 3423 Yards 18 TDs
Playoffs: 6 Games 99 Carries 502 Yards 3 TDsBest Trade:
Thomas Jones: Thomas Jones was acquired from the Bears in 2007 for a swap of 2nd round picks and Jones. Jones spent three seasons with the team including a pro bowl appearance in 2008. He was known for being a huge part of the 2009 team that made the conference championship game in addition to his all pro level stats over those three years. Jones set a franchise record 14 rushing TDs in 2009. Jones defined toughness with his hard nose running styles. He was a great acquisition by GM Mike Tanenbaum. While Jones was released after the season to avoid the bonus, he was due, he was a great Jet and a fan favorite.
Stats: 3 Seasons: Regular Season 931 Carries 3833 Yards 28 Touchdowns
Playoffs: 3 Games 45 Carries 117 Yards 1 TD
Awards: 1 Pro Bowl 2008, 1st Team All Pro AFC – 2008, Franchise Record 14 Rushing TDs in a Single Season 2008
Bilal Powell – Bilal Powell a 4th round pick out of Louisville by Mike Tannenbaum, and would go on to be a lifelong New York Jet. Powell, who was a Jet from 2011-2019, lasted through four Jets General Managers, three head coaches and while the Jets never won while he was a part of the organization, he was always a great leader, teammate, and a heck of a football player. I was at the game where he broke his neck against the Vikings in 2018, and while many doubted, he would be able to play again, he came back and was still a good player in 2019. Powell was a fan favorite for being a career long hardworking talented Jet.
Stats: 9 Seasons: 109 Games, 850 Carries 3765 Rushing Yards 15 TDs, 211 Catches 1600 Yards 5 TDs.
Best Veteran Pickup:
LaDainian Tomlinson – LT will always be known as a Charger and is in the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest RBs of all time because of it. However, he is also one of the best Jets signings of the decade and was a huge part of the 2010 Jets. LT spent two seasons with the Jets and while his legs showed their wear and tear in the 2011 season, he was still a contributor. After Thomas Jones left for the Chiefs, the Jets brought in LT, as he was an instant success in the regular season as well as big postseason performances vs the Colts and Steelers. While his time with the Jets was short, he came in and brought what he had left to one of the best Jets teams of all time.
Stats: 2 Seasons: 29 Games, 294 Carries 1194 Yards 7 Rushing TDs, 94 Catches 817 Yards 2 TDs
Postseason: 3 Games, 35 Carries 141 Yards 2 TDs, 6 Catches 19 Yards 1 TD.
Under the Radar Great Jet:
Leon Washington – Leon was a fan favorite Jet with his work on special teams as a returner and at running back. A 4th round pick out of Florida State, the undersized back provided a spark and elusiveness that led him to a Pro Bowl in 2008. He also gave a 3rd down security blanket out of the backfield to Chad Pennington, Brett Favre, and Mark Sanchez at the end of his time with the Jets. While injuries hampered Washington in the 2009 AFC title game run, he was a big player in the Jets 2006 10-6 playoff run. He will be remembered by Jets fans as a great Jet and someone who is always underrated in the history of the Jets.
Stats: 4 Seasons: 55 Games 370 Carries 1782 Yards 13 TDs, 123 Catches 969 Yards 2 TDs, 4 Kickoff Return TDs
Playoffs 1 Game – 94 Yards from scrimmage.
Awards: 1 Pro Bowl (2008), League Leading 3 Kickoff Returns for TDs (2008), League Leading 2332 APYds (2008) NFL Record 8 Career Kickoff Returns for Touchdown Career, 2 Time All Pro on Jets (2007, 2008).
Most Random Jets Running Back Jersey I own –
Lamont Jordan: Jordan was a 2nd round pick out a Maryland by the Jets in the 2001 draft. He played for 4 seasons with the Jets as Curtis Martin’s number two. He was a favorite of mine for his physical and bruising running style. I also had the pleasure of meeting him a bunch of times at Jets training camp as a kid. He had an elite swagger as a RB and while not the best Jet of all time, he clearly caught my attention enough, as a player at 7 years old to buy multiple jerseys of his.
Stats: 4 Seasons: 62 Games 262 Carries 1277 Yards 10 TDs
Best That Never Was –
Danny Woodhead: Woodhead was a fan favorite for his time on the Jets 2009 because of his spotlight on Hard Knocks and his contributions early in the 2010 season while Santonio Holmes was suspended. After playing in just one game, he ended up playing for the archrival Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens over an eight-year career. He would’ve been a Wayne Chrebet like figure for the Jets fan base as the undersized small school hero who pushed through to win each battle. Woodhead went on the have a great NFL career and Gang Greens fan base will always wonder “what if” when it comes to Woodhead.
Stats: 2 Season: 11 Games, 23 Total Touches 151 Yards 0 TDs
Postseason: 2 Games, 1 Catch -1 yard