Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Positional analysis: Running back
By Rich Cimini
This is part two in a nine-part analysis of the Jets -- a position-by-position breakdown as we head toward the scouting combine and free agency:
2012 depth chart: Shonn Greene (starter), Lex Hilliard (starter), Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, John Griffin.
Overview: Greene slipped past the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year, delivering the kind of season you've come to expect from him -- solid between-the-tackles production but very little explosiveness. He broke only two runs of 20+ yards. You can win with a player like Greene as long as he's paired with a speed back, but that wasn't the case with Powell, an inside slasher. McKnight has home-run ability, but he's wildly inconsistent from a fundamentals and focus standpoint.
Free agents: Greene, Hilliard.
2013 personnel preview: Greene is as good as gone. Despite his limitations, he'll draw moderate to heavy interest in a mediocre free-agent class. Plus, he's not a fit in Marty Mornhinweg's West-Coast system. The Jets need a versatile back with outside speed and pass-catching ability. Free agent Reggie (Hot Sauce) Bush would be ideal for the Jets, but there's little chance they'd be able to afford him. They probably will rely on the draft to find a No. 1 or No. 1a back that can be paired with Powell. Eddie Lacy (Alabama) and Montee Ball (Wisconsin) will be intriguing in the second round.
Salary-cap situation: You can't blame the running backs for the team's cap situation, as Powell and McKnight are counting a combined $1.4 million on the cap. In fact, the Jets haven't made a significant investment since 2007, when they traded for Thomas Jones and gave him a four-year deal with $12 million guaranteed. They've taken the cheap approach, and don't expect that to change.