Muscle Sport Magazine

LaDainian Tomlinson of the Jets – Far From Finished

In the offseason, Mike Tannenbaum had a few decisions to make. One of the major moves was a retooling of the backfield and the Jets general manager had to make some unpopular decisions.

Gang Green led the NFL in rushing in 2009 and Thomas Jones played a big part in that. The Virginia product had a career-best 1,402 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns but began to slow down later in the season just as the Jets made their playoff move. Rookie Shonn Greene took over as the number one back in the postseason and looked like a veteran.

Third down back and special teams standout Leon Washington suffered a broken leg halfway through the season and the uncertainty of him being effective after that was on everyone’s mind.

Washington’s leg and Jones running out of gas was more than enough to convince Tannenbaum to look in a different direction. West, to be more exact.

The San Diego Chargers decided to part ways with running back LaDainian Tomlinson and the Jets gladly signed the five-time pro Bowler to a free agent contract. Critics cried that if Jones was on the decline after his best statistical campaign, then how could LT – who saw his rushing totals go from over 1,800 yards in 2006 when he won the NFL MVP Award to 730 three years later – be an improvement?


Through the first 12 games of 2010, Tomlinson has run at times as if he was put through a time machine and amassed 788 yards on 176 attempts for a 4.5 average. With Greene suffering an sophomore jinx, LT has been the starter since Week 3 and his veteran leadership has been a great addition to the huddle and locker room alike.

Even the prospect of playing cold weather games on the east coast in the stretch run didn’t faze Tomlinson. To the contrary, he actually welcomed the challenge and wanted the offense to emphasize the rushing attack.

“I think that we’re going to do what we do, obviously the things that we’re good at,” he said. “That means we’re going to have to run the football and we’ll have to run it successfully. We definitely want to be able to let the run game set up our passing game. We want to be an all-weather football team, being able to run and pass it.”

Jets head coach Rex Ryan realizes that 2009 was a very special year for the running game and with the changes in the backfield and offense line, leading the league cannot happen every time out. “I don’t know if we’ve (had) the same amount of attempts as last year,” he said. “I think we’re throwing it more this year. I think we’re very effective in the rushing part. Obviously, I love to run the football. Hopefully, that will pick up. In the next several weeks, we’re facing some really good run defenses. Still, I have confidence in our running game. I think our backs are healthy.

“I think we’re (in) a good spot.”

No doubt that Tomlinson’s resurgence has a lot to do with that.

Photo by Rich O’Neill

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