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Jets Playing with Fire by Messing w/ Run Game


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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/ross_tucker/04/30/jets.mailbag/index.html

The New York Jets have been the biggest players in the NFL's offseason so far. But given two of the moves they made around draft weekend, the criticism of their decisions is bordering on equaling the praise they have received up to this point.

Sure, the Santonio Holmes move, at least from a football standpoint, looks like a slam dunk. All of the other moves, however, have legitimate question marks. It raises the question as to whether these moves had more to do with making a splash and selling Personal Seat Licenses than they did with winning football games.

The running back decisions take the cake. The Jets jettisoned Thomas Jones after a career year in which he gained over 1,400 yards and scored 14 TDs. They replaced him with former superstar LaDainian Tomlinson, whobrings name brand recognition but little else, as his average yards per carry slipped from 4.7 in 2007 to 3.8 in 2008 to 3.3 in 2009. Anyone else seeing a trend there? Yet the Jets got rid of Jones and are essentially paying L.T. the same amount they would have had to pay Jones. Hmmmm.

They also traded Leon Washington, the unquestioned star of the 2008 season who suffered a broken leg early in 2009, for pretty much nothing. The Jets may not have thought Washington would return to form and certainly didn't seem interested in giving him a contract extension, but betting on USC running back Joe McKnight to fill that role is a gamble. McKnight never lived up to his hype coming out of high school and is considered a very poor man's Reggie Bush.

But the Jets should be still be fine because they bring back the best line in football, a group with 34 consecutive starts together, right? Wrong. They recently released Alan Faneca, even though they have to pay him $5.25 million this year guaranteed. Does that make sense? They'd rather pay him $5.25 million to not play than $7.5 million to actually suit up for all 16-plus games?

Faneca is not the player he once was but is still solid. He was a big part of the successful running attack the Jets had last season. The two guys that started on either side of him the last two seasons, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, weren't very pleased with his release. Ferguson wanted to know "why???" on his Twitter account while Mangold said he was disappointed to hear the news.

It could be that both players are just disappointed their friend is gone. Or they could realize that continuity and chemistry are vital to offensive line play and that potentially adding a rookie starter to the mix in Vladimir Ducasse is less than ideal. Either way, the Jets moves, particularly as they relate to the running game, set them up for a boatload of criticism if they are anything less than the number one ranked unit in 2010. Why mess with the best?

Loved how he played the PSL card. Gotta love misinformed sports writers. :rolleyes:

Also, McKnight isn't replacing Leon, LT is. Tomlinson isn't replacing Jones, Greene is.

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They recently released Alan Faneca, even though they have to pay him $5.25 million this year guaranteed. Does that make sense? They'd rather pay him $5.25 million to not play than $7.5 million to actually suit up for all 16-plus games?

I pretty much think this tells you exactly what they think of Alan Faneca from a football standpoint, no?

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I still think the LT move was bull****. And I will continue thinking so until he proves me otherwise. I think he's got nada left in the tank.

agreed. I don't see him helping this offense much. If we didn't pick up McKnight I would say he might have more a role, but I think McKnight is more dynamic than LT2 at this present time.

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It's only risky because it's an unknown...It would have been as risky to bring back the more expensive guys we gave up anyway. I see nothing risky about getting younger in a young man's sport...especially since we're a Rexgressive organization now.

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It's only risky because it's an unknown...It would have been as risky to bring back the more expensive guys we gave up anyway. I see nothing risky about getting younger in a young man's sport...especially since we're a Rexgressive organization now.

Exactly. This isn't risky to me. It's reloading with quality talent, and getting rid of over the hill guys in TJ and Faneca. You could say LT is over the hill, which is true, but he should be fine in his backup/third down/goal line role behind this offensive line.

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I pretty much think this tells you exactly what they think of Alan Faneca from a football standpoint, no?

that's what is so surprising. i mean faneca struggled a little in '09 but he wasn't terrible. the jets obviously felt that faneca was awful for them to make this move.

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I don't think LT is what he used to be. But what he used to be, not all that long ago, was a HOF, maybe one of the ten best RBs ever to play the game. No disrespect to "touch me and I'll fall down" TJ, but his gift was following blockers and his blockers were the best in the business. Can't wait to see LT follow those blockers and when there isn't any holes, break tackles and fake out would be tacklers.

I think LT is going to be a big surprise.

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i think letting Faneca and Jones go is a HUGE mistake....

it will hurt this offense big time this year

I don't. Finally this team has realized the right time to cut the cord.

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i think letting Faneca and Jones go is a HUGE mistake....

it will hurt this offense big time this year

I definitely don't.

I was bummed at first about TJ, but I think Shonn Greene will more than handle the workhorse role, and that LT will be perfect in the 3rd down/goal line role. Hopefully McKnight will be something akin to this year's Shonn - the fresh legs at the end of the season, into the playoffs.

Faneca is pretty easily upgradable. He was in decline when the Jets signed him, he's in steep decline now. They've been grooming Slauson, and Ducasse is a beast.

Reports of LT being done are also overblown, IMHO. The Chargers were a terrible running team. LT had their longest run from scrimmage last year - just 36 yards. Sproles is supposed to be better than Leon, and only averaged 3.7 ypc for them. LT's average gets dragged down further as the team's short yardage back. I expect him to be rejuvenated behind the Jets' OL and FB's.

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i have always felt LT is here to help the passing attack fwiw

so if the passing attack improves 10 spots with alan turnstile gone, LT for his blocking and recieving skills, cotch on nickel backs, holmes going deep (;)) , and the run game drops 10, I think the jets are a better team because you have to be able to throw to mount 2 minute drills, come from behind and beat teams like the colts and saints

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Somewhere in all the fun of the "ground and pound" talk of last year, everyone has somehow forgotten that we spent a high first round draft selection on a quarterback. You dont draft a QB and pay him a bazillion dollars to be Trent Dilfer. Sure that is fine for year 1, but long term that is not what you do. I do think there were some financial concerns in dumping Faneca and TJ, but neither is strong in the passing game and the Jets are going to begin becoming a passing team.

Its also no longer a running league. In the last 5 years Id say there have been 4 out of 12 multi-division winners who have been run first teams. 2 teams were more or less balanced and the rest were pass first. Other than the Giants and Steelers most of those run first/balanced teams all died out (Seattle, Chicago, Tampa). IMO. the Jets moves towards becoming a balanced team this year are going to pay off long term.

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I can honestly picture Jets fans saying something like we need to cut some players like TJ and Faneca had we kept them. Both of those players are going to hit major walls this upcoming season.

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Somewhere in all the fun of the "ground and pound" talk of last year, everyone has somehow forgotten that we spent a high first round draft selection on a quarterback.

Who just had knee surgery. But yeah, let's keep an overpaid, old interior lineman who sucks in the passing game in as a starter and see how that works out.

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I still think the LT move was bull****. And I will continue thinking so until he proves me otherwise. I think he's got nada left in the tank.

Well Jones has even less in the tank (SEE: AFC Title Game) and doesn't bring to the table something LT DOES: Making catches out of the backfield.

The Chargers completely mis-used LT under Norv Turner and he's got a chip on his shoulder. It should tell you something that LT was being courted by the Vikings as well as us, while Jones could only get signed by the Chiefs (NO ONE ELSE wanted him, either).

No, LT isn't an ideal choice as our # 2/3rd down back, but who else was out there that you wanted? Even if he only gives us 1 year, we have Greene and McKnight, and I'll bet we draft yet another RB in 2011.

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Spot on. Bravo for the well written article. LT is obviously (when the green glasses are off) wayyyy over the hill, and the cutting of Faneca was purely a cost cutting move for next year. If they cut Faneca this year, they take the hit this year. They cut him next year, then they take a cap hit next year, and who knows what the cap penalties will be next year when there most likely will be a cap, unlike this uncapped year.

No way a rookie comes in and fills the shoes of Faneca. None.

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No way a rookie comes in and fills the shoes of Faneca. None.

I'm sure, once upon a time, no rookie was gonna come in and fill Kevin Mawae's shoes, either.

Too bad the Jets didn't wait, so we could've had a few months of you posting about how Faneca was our most overpaid, underperforming OL before they let him go. :lol:

Transparent troll is transparent.

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Spot on. Bravo for the well written article. LT is obviously (when the green glasses are off) wayyyy over the hill, and the cutting of Faneca was purely a cost cutting move for next year. If they cut Faneca this year, they take the hit this year. They cut him next year, then they take a cap hit next year, and who knows what the cap penalties will be next year when there most likely will be a cap, unlike this uncapped year.

No way a rookie comes in and fills the shoes of Faneca. None.

I wasn't aware Faneca was under contract for next year.

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You know I heard people say Josh Freeman is a poor mans JaMarcus Russel. Freeman did more in his rookie year than Russell has done in his career.

These guys opinions areas good as ours. Nobody here or there knows anything about what will happen in the future

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Reports of LT being done are also overblown, IMHO. The Chargers were a terrible running team. LT had their longest run from scrimmage last year - just 36 yards. Sproles is supposed to be better than Leon, and only averaged 3.7 ypc for them. LT's average gets dragged down further as the team's short yardage back. I expect him to be rejuvenated behind the Jets' OL and FB's.

I'll take it further and say that LT gets more or very similar carries to Greene. I don't think the Jets trust Greene to be a workhorse yet, and workhorse is definitely on LT's resume. McKnight should work well off of the two guys when we use him.

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I still think the LT move was bull****. And I will continue thinking so until he proves me otherwise. I think he's got nada left in the tank.

To be fair, TJ's got nothing left in the tank. The author of the article clearly didn't watch the Jets down the stretch or in the playoffs. "Ineffective" is a generous description of Thomas Jones performance late last year..

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Switching Jones/Leon with LT/McKnight isn't a risk. The only risk we took was repelacing Faneca with Ducasse.

Jones is 31 years old, he's dying down anyways, and that was shown at the end of last season. Leon may not even be ready for Week 1 and McKnight is a rookie who has a lot of talent.

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