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Assessing the Roster- Running Back

Shonn Greene- I have never been a big fan of Greene. I think there are certain qualities you look for in a runner and he has none of them. There are two types of backs that I think can be successful in the NFL. There are the types that can sneak through a tiny space created by the line and occasionally blow up the big play when they get to the second level. There are also the types that are more plodding, but also more reliable. Those are the types that hit the pile hard, keep moving the legs, and gain something positive even when nothing exists. Those are the guys that just chug along after first contact. Greene is neither. If there is no hole there is no gain. If there is a big hole there is no chance of a big play. If there is a pile to be moved Greene hesitates and tries to cut somewhere that provides no chance of resulting in a positive play.

Green is at the bottom of the league in YPA and yards after contact. He canít catch the football and is not a good blocker. There is literally no upside to his game at all. I think this is a situation where the Jets fell in love with what they saw in 2009 when he was a rookie and came on late to spell Thomas Jones. Teams were worn down when Greene was just getting started and that line he had was terrific. It is the only reason I can imagine that he finished his contract with the Jets. Greene is a free agent next season.

Bilal Powell- Powell is physically less talented than Greene but is a more reliable runner. Like Greene Powell is not going to move a pile. In fact, Powell is probably easier to take down once you get your hands on him. Powell clearly has no breakaway speed or second gear where he is going to stun the opposition into a big run. The lone thing that Powell has going for him is that he doesnít hesitate nearly as much as Greene with the football if there is not a clear path through the line. He gets the ball and if the playcall says run left and it means running right into a sea of opposing jerseys he is going to get low and run right into it. This is the reason why Powell tends to gain more yards per attempt than Greene. That being said he does not seem to be someone that you would want to give more than maybe 1/3 of the plays to. Heís purely a back that is going to spell a more talented player and maybe be used in crunch time when a team is trying to use the ground game to run the clock out.

Joe McKnight- Like Tim Tebow, the Jets seem to have no use for McKnight on offense. McKnight is a versatile player that was drafted to replace the void left by Leon Washington. McKnight showed up out of shape and was probably lucky to make the team. He has the most explosive talent of anyone but his lack of fundamentals in the game have more or less forced him to the bench. Its amazing that he did not get more playing time with the season crumbling, which speaks volumes about his place on the team. They even ďtradedĒ him to the defense for a week before realizing that experiment wasnít going to work. He is a good special teamer, but his future seems to be more with a team utilizing an open spread style offense.

Lex Hilliard- A decent fullback that I guess can fit a role on a team that wants to use two in the backfield. I tend to think more teams will shift tight ends into this role rather than carry a fullback but he might have a future with the team. Heís a free agent after the season and would carry the minimum cap charge to return.


One of the areas that the Jets need to avoid is the overreliance on the draft selection. Guys either have it or they donít and just because they were a draft choice doesnít mean you have to keep them. I do not expect Greene back next season, but the Jets canít just say that Powell showed enough to be the man. Powell is what he is and the Jets need to accept it and look elsewhere. The Jets really need two players to fill out the roster and help the team. Maybe they can find the skillset in one player, but it may take two.

Essentially the Jets need a top flight runner to carry the load for the offense and someone who can catch passes out of the backfield as a safety valve for the QB. My fear is that the Jets will pursue Chris Johnson, who is likely to be released in a few weeks by the Tennessee Titans, and I donít view him as a solution. Their other option they may consider is going the trade route and looking at someone like a Matt Forte in Chicago, who probably wouldnít mind getting his guarantees off the books. I wouldnít be stunned if they approach Jacksonville about the possibility of getting Maurice Jones-Drew as part of a Tebow package. MJD has worn out his welcome in Jacksonville and the Jets need to save face on this Tebow move and sending Tebow and a 2 or 3 for MJD would probably be looked upon favorably by the fanbase. Iíd prefer looking in the late rounds of the draft or along the non-drafted player route, but they need two unique skills here next season if they expect to turn things around. I donít think the answer currently sits on the roster. Powell may be the only player from this group to return.

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