Thomas Jones- A product of the Jets offensive line

March 16, 2010

Good luck in KC...you're gonna need it.

Since the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson, most people have stated their belief that LT is done and washed up.  Last season, Tomlinson ran for just over 700 yards and 12 TD’s, a far cry from his career year of 1,800 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2006.  Furthermore, he was hurt two out of the last three years and was used less and less in the San Diego offense.  

Thomas Jones on the other hand was coming off a career-season, rushing for over 1,400 yards and carrying Gang-Green to the rushing title.  He also scored a combined 29 touchdowns the last two seasons, after scoring just 29 TD’s combined his previous six seasons prior.  He was a vocal leader in the locker room and a mentor to a lot of Jets players.   TJ was a great Jet, and I thank him for his time in the Green and White.  

A lot of clueless people have stated that the Jets were fools for releasing Jones, especially after a 1,400 yard season.  

I say…nonsense.  

On paper this looks like a no-brainer that the Jets made a mistake in releasing Jones and using that money towards signing LT.  Here was Thomas Jones, coming off two monster seasons who is now replaced by the “slow-footed,” injury prone Ladainian Tomlinson.  

Nevertheless, a further look into the two players, and both the Jets and Chargers teams of last year , will show that this may not have been such a bad move by Tannenbaum. 

If you watched the Jets during the stretch run of the regular season, and into the playoffs, you saw Jones’ carries diminish and handed off to Shonn Greene.  Not only was Greene emerging and playing very well, but TJ was breaking down and nursing leg injuries that clearly affected his burst and break-away ability.  Let’s be honest though- TJ never really had much speed to begin with and could only gain yardage if there was a giant hole to run through.  

In replacing Jones, Shonn Greene went on to amass over 500 yards in just 108 carries, equaling an impressive five-yards a carry.  Is that an indication of how good Shonn Greene is?  Maybe….the kid has all the tools to be a productive back if he stays healthy.  

Or was Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene the products of the Jets having the best offensive line in football?   That’s probably more like it…. 

Further evidence can be found if you rewind back to the 2007 season, where TJ  ran for 1,120 yards and just ONE touchdown.  That season it was common knowledge that the Jets offensive line was no better than a high school team, and the results on the field showed that.  

If Thomas Jones is such a productive running back, where were the great numbers in ’07? 

In 2008, the Jets added Alan Faneca and Damian Woody to the line, and Mangold and D’Brick had a year of experience.  The results-  better offensive line equaled better running back production.  

The 2009 San Diego Chargers were on the complete opposite spectrum of the ’09 Jets.  Their offensive line was pretty bad, and further hurting the run game was Norv Turner’s love of the pass.  Certainly LT’s per carry average was piss-poor last season, but it didn’t help that his carries went down 70% from the year prior.  I’m sure any running back will tell you that it’s tough to get a rhythm going if your team relies solely on the passing game.  

I began to doubt that LT was done after I viewed Darren Sproles’ numbers from last season as well.  Sproles rushed for just 3.7 yards per carry, a drastic drop off from his 5.4 average the year prior.  Sproles is much quicker, and faster than Tomlinson, yet we didn’t see Darren breaking off any 30-yard runs either last season.  

So did last year show that LT was finished?  Maybe….his numbers were pretty bad.  Or was the Chargers offensive line really just as abysmal as the Jets were in 2007?  That’s probably more like it.  

I spoke to a friend from college who for some reason is a Chargers fan and asked him his thoughts on LT.  He said, and I quote, “Bro, LT is going to be great for you guys.  For some reason Norv decided to abandon the run game completely, and it didn’t help that our offensive line f*cking sucks.”  

My old college friend went on to say that he watched every Charger game last year and Tomlinson still has a burst to the hole.  The main problem was that he was constantly met in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage because once again “our offensive line f*cking sucks.”  

Peter King of Sports Illustrated also brought up a few good points regarding the Tomlinson signing.  He noted that LT is familiar with Brian Schottenheimer and the offense from Schotty’s days on the San Diego coaching staff and that right now the Jets have the best run-schemer in football named Brian Callahan.  In addition to of course, the best offensive line.  

I’m not saying that LaDainian will have a 1,500 yard season, with 15 touchdowns for the Jets in 2010.  I think he is on the decline.  Yet, with the Jets offensive line I’d be shocked if Tomlinson ran for only 3.3 yards per carry.  He will be a productive back for the Jets, both on the field and off in mentoring Leon and Greene.  

I will guarantee, however, that Thomas Jones will not have 1,400 yards with the Kansas City Chiefs.  He did very little before he got to the Jets and will do nothing after.  

I’m not trying to insult TJ and belittle his skills as a back.  Just calling a spade a spade… 

Mike Tannenbaum knows what he’s doing.  He saw Thomas Jones on the sidelines the second half of the season with more injuries than the Mets.  Jones is 32 and has reached his peak as a running back.  Tomlinson has definitely reached his as well, but his skill set is and always was better than Jones’.   Shonn Greene is also much more talented than Jones, and bringing TJ back for $5.8 million would have only made sense for him to be a mentor to Greene.  

With LaDainian now in the fold, Greene still has a mentor, and now the Jets have better talent in the backfield.

Former Tomlinson teammate Lorenzo Neal thinks LT will fly in New York:

“Running the ball is an attitude. San Diego stopped running the ball and when they took that out of San Diego, the team changed its direction. That hurt Tomlinson.”

“Now he’s in a place where he knows they have a running game with a purpose,” Neal said. “This guy will fly; I think he’s going to fly. He’s been backed into a corner like a caged cat and he’s going to scratch and fight.”

Neal said Tomlinson’s “biggest impact” to the Jets will be in the passing game with his receiving skills out of the backfield. That was an area of significant weakness last year, particularly after Leon Washington was lost for the season with a broken right leg.

One comment

  1. couldn’t agree more. good post.

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