The New York Jets are not getting the production they need from one of their offensive skill positions, and the time has come to give the backup a chance.
No, I'm not talking about the quarterback position, where Tim Tebow and even Greg McElroy have suddenly become fan favorites. The Jets are still a "ground-andpound" team at heart, and their running back play has not been close to good enough to support this identity in 2012.
Starting running back Shonn Greene has been the primary culprit. The former Iowa Hawkeye has not taken the "leap" this season, failing to emerge as a workhorse in a year where the Jets sorely need one.
Greene burst onto the scene towards the end of his 2009 rookie season with excellent playoff performances against the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. At the time, the Jets had one of the best offensive lines in football.
The running back had some solid performances after taking over as the starter for Thomas Jones in 2010, but as the Jets offensive line has deteriorated from an elite unit to an average unit, Greene's play has worsened as well.
This is to be expected, but the problem is that Green looked like an above-average back when the line was elite and now looks like a below-average back when the line is average. This means he is probably an average back.
Recently, Greene has rarely had the kind of pep in his step that he did in his rookie season, and it instead is backup Bilal Powell who has shown better bursts of speed and sharper cutting ability. Powell has started to cut into Greene's carries lately, though with the Jets having played in several consecutive blowouts, it is hard to tell if he has truly risen up the depth chart.
Yet, Powell should continue to see more of the carries regardless of the game situation. With the Jets essentially out of contention in 2012, he has earned the chance to take his shot at the starting job.
Powell is a more complete back than Greene, who has proven uncomfortable and ineffective in the passing game throughout his career. Powell is a competent checkdown option if nothing greater, but he certainly does not seem out of place in the role.
Greene becomes a free agent at the end of this season, and given his performance, he has not earned a big contract. The Jets may choose to go in another direction altogether this offseason, but for the rest of 2012 they should see exactly what they have in Powell.