New York Jets Running Backs a Strength, Not a Concern

Jayson LoveCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Running back Shonn Greene #23 of the New York Jets runs with the ball against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Coming into the 2010 season, a lot of prognosticators are pointing to the Jets' running back corps of Shonn Greene, Ladainian Tomlinson, and rookie Joe McKnight as a possible downgrade from Leon Washington and last year's league-leading rusher Thomas Jones. 

Moreover, these prognosticators seem to think that the acquisition of Santonio Holmes and retention of Braylon Edwards, signify an attempt to transform the Jets from a predominantly running offense to a passing attack that features Mark Sanchez.

I am not so sure that this is what is really going on with the Jets. 

Coaches don't just haphazardly change their styles of coaching; particulary if their coaching style is working. Rex Ryan is an "in your face" kind of guy, and he has an "in your face" coaching philosophy.

He believes in the "ground and pound" approach on offense and a blitzing and aggressive defense. He certainly doesn't want to have a high risk offense that gives opponents short fields and easy scores. 

Getting rid of Jones was a move on the philosophy that you would rather be a year early in jettisoning a player, than a year too late.

Jones has taken a pounding over the course of the last two years and seemed to break down during the playoffs.

And while it seems that Ladainian Tomlinson had slowed over the last couple of years, it also is worth noting that the Chargers placed a lot more emphasis on the passing game, behind their star quarterback Phillip Rivers.

Tomlinson carried it 106 times less than Thomas Jones over the past two seasons, and the Jets won't look to Tomlinson as the every down back.

The Jets running attack, while a nightmare for a fantasy football player, is perfect for the modern NFL.  It features running backs of three completely contrasting and complimentary styles.

Instead of carrying veterans like Jones, whose best years are behind him, and Washington who may never fully recover from a devastating knee injury, the Jets have two young backs with little mileage on their tires, and a veteran pressence in Tomlinson.

Shonn Greene will probably get the bulk of the carries, but the Jets will seek to keep him fresh throughout the season by sprinkling in some of L.T. and the rookie McKnight.

Greene is a between the tackles type runner who has enough speed to break big plays, but should be able to wear down a defense with brusing straight ahead runs. 

McKnight is the wild card. In a world of instant judgments and news that comes to us in a matter of seconds, Jets fans and media are quick to dismiss McKnight as a bust already.

He came into camp out of shape, failed a conditioning test, and got tackled a few times in the preseason's first game and the negativity spewed.

However, against Carolina, he showed some signs of breathtaking open-field ability on a punt return.  

Tomlinson is still 'shifty', and can make plays in the open-field. He is the best       pass-catching threat out of the backfield that the Jets have had since Richie Anderson.

The Jets' receiving corps provides a legitamate threat that should spread the field for the featured running attack. The Jets will seek to rely on the running game to set up big plays for Edwards and Holmes in the passing game or use the passing game to set up the running attack.

Fans get wrapped up in stats, they see a 1,400 yard back in Jones get released and worry. What they don't realize is that the Jets are not in the business of paying people for what they have done in the past, they are trying to predict the future. 

That future is bright with this backfield in motion.