If Julius Jones wants inspiration heading into the new season, he doesn't have to look very far. He can keep this one in the family.
Hands up—how many people honestly thought Thomas Jones would make the Pro Bowl in 2009?
There may be a few Jets fans at the back tentatively raising a solitary hand.
Truth be told, it was largely a surprise that Jones ran for 1,312 yards (fifth in the NFL), scored 13 touchdowns, and earned a trip to Hawaii.
After leaving Chicago via trade, Jones managed just a single rushing score in his first year in New York.
He hit back in 2009 to become one of the most productive backs in the league.
It's a situation brother Julius can relate to.
The younger Jones brother made a promising start to his career with the Cowboys, joining the league as a second round pick in 2004.
Then the wheels fell off as the ex-Notre Dame runner took a back seat to Marion Barber. Allowed to leave Dallas, Jones signed on with the Seattle Seahawks last year.
Yet like his sibling, it was far from plain sailing during his initial season with a new team.
Struggling for carries in a three-pronged attack alongside T.J. Duckett and Mo Morris, Jones often watched from the sidelines.
Take away 100+ yard performances in weeks two & three and Jones would've struggled to clip 500 for the season (he eventually managed 698 total yards).
He scored just two touchdowns.
As with Thomas, Julius isn't being touted for a first Pro Bowl appearance ahead of the new season.
But it wouldn't surprise me if he follows in his brother's foot steps. Here's why:
- Mo Morris has departed for Detroit, leaving Jones to carry the bulk of the workload alongside Duckett.
- Seattle will deploy a zone blocking scheme in 2009, which suits Jones' one-cut style to a tee.
- The Seahawks welcome back a healthy Matt Hasselbeck and have boosted their passing game by signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh. This should draw greater attention, potentially opening up Seattle's running game.
- New offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will use a more balanced run/pass ratio than Mike Holmgren.
- Perhaps more importantly though is the point Julius Jones has to prove.
A disappointing exit in Dallas and now an anti-climatic first year in Seattle. He knows this is a big season.
Can he emulate his brother and bounce back in 2009?