This will be a regular feature throughout pre-season. Now, a look at 10 predictions for fans of the GreenAndWhiteReport to discuss, starting with #9:
9. Shonn Greene Tops 1,000 Yards – Last year, Thomas Jones was the little engine that could, churning and turning his way for 1,402 yards on the ground. With the third highest rushing total in the league, it came as a surprise to some that the Jets would release Jones this off-season, considering the productivity left in the player.
Jones was one of the most durable players in the league, his 331 carries last season second only to the Titans' Chris Johnson. But he is more than just a workhorse, he's good at what he does. Jones fumbled just twice all of last year – but he didn't lose possession on either occasion.
More than anything, Jones was a warrior off the field. His weightroom work ethic was notorious and he kept his body in prime shape; Jones was also known to close-out the team's training facility at night and watched gamefilm for hours by himself – sometimes the same film six to eight times. But, the Jets determined that Shonn Greene, coming off his rookie season, was a younger and cheaper version than Jones and a good value to be had.
A third-round pick out of Iowa who was dodged by question marks in last year's draft, Greene slowly worked himself into the rotation at running back. After just seven carries through the team's first six games, the Jets went Greene in late October during a 38-0 drubbing of Oakland. All told, the rookie toted the ball 19 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Raiders, receiving the bulk of his carries after Leon Washington was taken off the field for what proved to be a season ending injury and ultimately, his last game with the Jets.
From then on, in limited action, Greene would four times average 4.8 yards or more per carry in a game. The last two regular season game saw him with 16 and 13 carries respectively in wins over Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Those would represent the second and third highest carry total of Green's regular season and would portend the influence he'd have during the playoffs.
Twice in the Jets' drive to the AFC Championship Game, Greene would top 100 yards, putting together a solid post-season performance. Now, the ground game is his.
Despite the free-agent signing of LaDanian Tomlinson, it is Greene who will get the bulk of the carries. Behind an offensive line that formed the push for the league's best rushing offense, Greene should get 1,000 yards, even having to split carries with Tomlinson. Greene is a downhill rusher who is comfortable going between the tackles and doesn't hesitate when hitting the hole. That brand of football works well with the Jets' offensive scheme.
And the offensive line has improved – the Jets jettisoned Alan Faneca post- draft after selecting Vladimir Ducasse in the second round. The team wasn't pleased with Faneca's blocking for the ground game and Ducasse is a young, powerful and versatile – if raw – lineman who can get downfield to block for Greene.
A quick rewind to 2009 and an abacus should point to the fact that Greene can be a 1,000 yard man for the Jets this year.
Only twice in the opening six games last season did Jones top 20 carries per game and he didn't start consistently topping the 20 carry mark until after Leon Washington's injury. Going off an average of 16 carries a game for Jones before Washington's injury and assuming that Greene will get a similar number of carries as the feature back (the rest of the carries going to Tomlinson and rookie Joe McKnight) and that Greene stays healthy through 16 games would give the second-year back just over 250 carries on the season. The exact tally is 256.
Considering that he averaged five yards per carry in the regular season last year, even a dip to four yards per carry would put Greene into the 1,000 yard club. That rushing total would place him 16th in the league last year and ahead of notable brands such as Knowshon Moreno, Marion Barber and Joseph Addai.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012