NFL Free Agency 2012: New York Jets Must Move on from LaDainian Tomlinson
Seventy-five carries for 280 rushing yards and a touchdown, and 42 receptions for 449 receiving yards and two touchdowns. That's the kind of season soon-to-be Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson put together in 2011-12.
His stats prove that he should done, at least for the New York Jets.
It is sad that Tomlinson was unable to make it to the Super Bowl with the Jets, but such is life. Eleven seasons at the position he plays is quite an accomplishment. Especially with the seven years in which he had more than 300 carries each year with the San Diego Chargers.
Although he could still prove to be useful on third down, he is hindering the growth of the other Jets running backs.
Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and maybe a running back the Jets pick up in this year's draft will more than compensate for Tomlinson's production.
Here are three more reasons why the Jets need to move on from Tomlinson.
But if he did, it sure didn't show, as the Jets locker room was in complete disarray throughout the season. Instead of helping to fix the problems in the locker room, it seemed as if Tomlinson just sat back and watched the dysfunction.
Then after the season, he ripped the locker room and blamed Rex Ryan's brash coaching style as the cause of it.
On Showtime’s Inside the NFL,Tomlinson had this to say:
(The Jets) created this. This is the type of football team that they wanted. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face type of style, say whatever you want, just get it done on the field. And then it leads to other things, as guys are calling each other out and saying I’m not getting the ball or whatever it may be.
Tomlinson was brought in for his leadership, at least partly. With his production on the field way down, he should have contributed more to the fractured locker room.
If he can’t even provide veteran leadership, what good can he be?
The New York Jets are stacked at the running back position with Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight and last year's fourth-round selection, Bilal Powell.
The organization has seen what it has in Greene, as he was made the lead back this season. In the lead back role, he gained over 1,000 yards on the ground while carrying the ball 253 times.
Joe McKnight was barely used, as he had only 134 yards on 43 carries. He did, however, show some talent in Week 10 against the Denver Broncos, when Greene went out with an injury in the first quarter. During that game, McKnight rushed for 59 yards and had 62 receiving yards.
McKnight also led the league in kick-return average, as he proved to be a weapon on special teams.
Powell, the 5’10’’, 204-pound running back out of Louisville, only carried the ball 13 times for a total of 21 yards. With such limited playing time, he remains an unknown.
If Tomlinson stays, the Jets may never find out what they have in McKnight or Powell.
If New York doesn't like its depth at running back, it may choose to draft another one. Being that Tomlinson is a free agent and aging, it would be easiest to just let him walk.
Mark Sanchez's Development
It is rare that a future Hall of Fame running back is a hindrance to a young quarterback like Mark Sanchez, but LaDainian Tomlinson just might have accomplished that.
Sanchez used Tomlinson as a safety net, dumping it to him a total of 42 times throughout the season. Some of those 42 throws could have gone to Santonio Holmes.
Holmes’ main problem was that he wanted to be more of a target for Sanchez. This season, he only had 51 receptions.
With Sanchez’s safety net gone, it may have sort of a ‘’taking off the training wheels’’ effect on him. Next season, if Tomlinson is gone, Sanchez will be forced to make more downfield throws, or at least just look for open receivers rather than an open running back five yards away.
This may result in more turnovers, but that may be part of the learning process. Last year, even though Sanchez’s stats were up a little, he looked very much like a quarterback who has regressed.
Hopefully, next season, we can find out if Tomlinson may have been the problem.