This week’s mailbag talks about the Jets running game, with a focus on running back Shonn Greene. Greene finds himself the subject of a fair amount of Twitter debate this morning, making this mailbag question especially interesting. I also talk about a trend in the NFL that seems to be here to stay.
Thanks for all the great feedback and mailbag questions, as always. I will continue with the off-season mailbags every other week until the start of training camp.
Do you see any of our backs getting 1000 yards this year? Or each guy getting around 800? (Greene and McKnight) @AnthoNYJetsFan
We all know that the Jets will be running the ball much more this season, and with an increased number of carries and (hopefully) an improved performance from the offensive line, the total yardage among all of the running backs will increase.
But what can we expect, statistically speaking, from these backs on an individual basis?
First and foremost, I am of the opinion that the Jets run game this year will be largely be a three-headed monster (even four-headed, if you count Tebow), and that while it will benefit the team, it will ultimately keep one player from posting the kind of numbers that Fantasy Football championships are made of.
I also happen to believe that Shonn Greene is not a real #1, bell-cow type of running back. I’ve said as much for well over a year now, and while Greene has been servicable, and at times shown flashes of brilliance, he just isn’t elite. Evan Silva from Rotoworld went on an interesting rant on his TL this morning about Greene’s running ability, and I feel he outlines a lot of the issues I also have with Greene: lack of power, runs like he is stuck in the mud, takes too long to get going, doesn’t overpower or wear down opponents.
Of course, he is in a contract year, and this is the perfect opportunity to prove me wrong. This is sort of a digression on the question, but it’s relevant to the conversation that’s going on today.
Greene has a career 4.3 YPC and in 2011, he ran just over 1,000 yards on 253 attempts, a career high for the running back. You may be shocked to learn that this was good for 13th in the league in total yardage, just slightly behind Bengals RB Cedric Benson. In fact, Greene and Benson had nearly identical seasons statistically, with the primary exception being fumbles. (Benson had 5, Greene 1).
The majority of the running backs in the first 15 in total yardage are all from systems that rely on one running back to assume the majority of the workload (Benson, Lynch, Wells), and we are not going to see that from Greene this year. The other backs will cut into his production and for that reason, I imagine Greene will meeting but not really exceed his 2011 total yardage (do NOT seem him exceeding 1,200 yards). I have him his projected at 15-18 carries a game, which puts him right at or just slight above 2011 if he performs similarly with those opportunities.
800 yards seems like an extremely generous total for McKnight, as I see taking on an LT type role in the offense. He will have the added receiving yards Greene will not but I am projecting him in the 500 yard range, putting him more on pace with guys like Ryan Grant and C.J. Spiller, who performed similiar roles in their respective offenses.
McKnight’s totals will also be effected by either Ganaway or Powell, whomever the team elects to step into that third role. I suspect it will be Ganaway, running a similar style to Greene with fewer carries. I would imagine that third runner will accumulate under 300 yards total, unless Greene or McKnight is injured.
What we have yet to determine is how involved Tebow will be in the offense (and no, I don’t mean as the quarterback), and how many carries, particularly of the goal line variety, he will be given. I also think it’s worth noting that the Broncos running game benefited tremendously from Tebow’s presence last season; Willis McGahee finished in the top 10 in total rushing yards among running back’s last season playing alongside Tebow and his YPC were well above his career averages. Don’t think Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano, Mike Tannenabum and yes, Woody Johnson didn’t know this when they brought Tebow on board. He will be a part of the running game. It’s just hard to say how much in June.
What are your thoughts on the perception that a lot of rule changes seem to favor the offense? @xperiencelife22
At one point last year, I remember tweeting my friend and complaining that defense is dying after I grew increasingly frustrated watching receivers and quarterbacks – especially high profile QBs like Tom Brady – get ridiculous calls in their favor if the wind so much as blew a hair out of place. I understand the league’s desire to protect high profile players and to a degree, favor the offense, as it is to their benefit from a business perspective. But we are inching closer and closer to arena football with every rule change.
All of this being said, I think the events of this past off-season have allowed me to look at the situation with a refreshed perspective. There is one aspect of this we tend to leave out when we swear at our TV sets over an angry call in favor of Brady and that is the issue of safety.
In light of all the concussion and head injury discussions that have gone on this off-season, I’m starting to come around a bit on this issue. I absolutely feel that it’s priority number one to preserve the health of the players and I think that is the NFL’s point, regardless of what anyone implies otherwise. Naturally, means protecting those who are in possession of the ball as they will be the target of hits. I’m absolutely on board with the rules protecting the runners and receivers flying into coverage in the middle of the field, and of course QBs that are running for their lives if it means they can stay IN the game and keep their brain cells.
The problem is the the inconsistency with the calls. I would need to look at the data, but I think it’s safe to say that the Tom Brady’s of the world are better protected by these rules than some of the other players and this has to change. If you are going to dumb down the defense, let’s at least make sure we are consistent in dumbing it down, eh? I can’t argue with the league protecting it’s star players, as these guys make them money and increase interest in the game. At the end of the day, it is a business. But so long as it’s glaringly obvious, you are going to get complains from fans.
There is absolutely NO question in my mind the new rules “favor” the offense, but I think this is just the direction the NFL is moving in. As a Jets fan, I am obviously a fan of defense, but ultimately, I want to keep the game I love around for as long as possible. I guess I will have to just get used to it, because there is no going back.
You can submit questions for a future edition of the mailbag on Twitter, @KristineReese, or on Facebook.