The Jets have made it clear what they expect from Shonn Greene this season. The fourth-year running back will be the engine for an offense that hopes to revive its ground-and-pound attack.
“I’m asking for a monster season,” running backs coach Anthony Lynn told me. “I think he’s one of the best power backs in the game. Why wouldn’t you?”
Greene, coming off a 1,054-yard season, admitted that there’s additional incentive to play better in the final year of his contract and “get a fresh new start” under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who could turn him into the bellcow running back that Rex Ryan claimed he would be prior to last season.
Greene posted career highs in carries (253) and yards last season, but he never became the centerpiece of an offense in perpetual flux. He averaged 39 yards and 3.1 yards per carry through the first four games when the Jets leaned on Mark Sanchez to beat teams through the air. After Ryan made an executive decision to return their run-first roots, Greene averaged 75 yards and 4.4 yards per carry in the final 12 games, which would project to a 1,196-yard season. He averaged 31 percent more carries per game (16.8) in the final 12 games than he did in the first month (12.8).
We're more bullish on Greene than most and would be content to take his boring production in the middle rounds. Greene finished the 2011 season RB18 in standard scoring formats, but he's the #25 RB off the board despite the fact that he's still young (27 to start the season) and that the Jets let LaDainian Tomlinson (117 touches) go. Sure, Tim Tebow may very well eat into his rushing TDs, but he only had six scores in 2011 so he can only drop so far in that area. He has improved as a pass-catcher as well. He should make a solid (if unexciting) RB2 or a very good RB3.