The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will meet in Week 1 and will provide us with the first opportunity to assess whether Rex Ryan’s ground-and-pound technique will be an effective one in 2012. Naturally, this is dependent on the ability of running back Shonn Greene to actually do the pounding.
I expect Green to have an improved 2012 season for the simple reason that the Jets will provide him with adequate opportunities to do so. Things should go as planned in Week 1.
Greene averaged 4.2 yards per carry in 2011, which placed him 15th among running backs with over 200 carries. He’s never going to be a player who can rip off huge chunks of yardage in single runs. So, when you see an average of four yards, it really means just that—time and time again.
Greene is like an old station wagon from the '90s with just 30,000 miles on it.
Fast? Certainly not.
Even if Green nets less than 100 yards, he can still be a controlling presence.
Just take a look at fellow moving tree trunk, Michael Turner. Turner has better breakaway ability (11 carries of over 20 to Greene’s four in 2011), but he predicates his success on consistent inside running.
Green should be concerned with doing the little things to elevate his per-carry average to around 4.5 yards. Fall forward. Stay low. Hit the gaps with decisiveness.
If Shonn Greene does prove ineffective, who should take over the role as the primary running back?
The biggest hindrance to Buffalo’s anticipated 2012 success is their run defense. They ranked 28th last season, allowing an average of 139 yards per game on the ground.
They will have a difficult time correcting the problem against the Jets.
Florida State’s Nigel Bradham is the only newcomer to the linebacker core. Look for Jets fullback John Connor to see a lot of action and attack the central defenders.
The Bills got a fantastic rookie season out of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Dareus may have an All-Pro selection in his near future, but it remains to be seen how Kyle Williams will recover from his 2011 foot injury. Not to mention, Nick Mangold will be alternating between the two interior linemen for the duration of the game.
And what about those recently acquired pass rushers? Mario Williams can be effective in run support, but most of Greene’s runs will be between the tackles. Mark Anderson recorded 10 sacks for the Patriots in 2011, but as ESPN scouts indicate, he relies heavily on finesse and struggles against the run. The D’Brickashaw Ferguson factor cannot be ignored either.
Statistics from previous seasons are not necessarily useful tools in trying to predict a new one. That said, New York’s commitment to running the ball and Buffalo’s inconsistency defending will give Green an opportunity to thrive in Week 1.