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LaDainian Tomlinson's rebirth

The Jets running back has enjoyed stellar blocking by the offensive line

Updated: October 11, 2010, 11:30 AM ET
By Doug Farrar | Football Outsiders

Future first-ballot Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson is currently in violation of two "absolute" football tenets: (1) running backs don't see comebacks after they start to decline, and (2) this inevitable decline must begin by age 30. The 31-year-old former rushing and touchdown champ had started his backslide at the right time, declining in yards per carry every year from 2007 through 2009. The drop from 4.7 to 3.3 was so precipitous, nobody could have been blamed for thinking that the move by the New York Jets to acquire Tomlinson in the 2010 offseason was a ceremonial effort.

Through his first four games, though, Tomlinson is averaging a ridiculous 6.1 yards per carry, and his per-game total of 85.3 yards is more than 30 yards better than his 2009 total and his best since 2007. As it turned out, the Jets knew how to not only spot a bargain in the backfield, but how to create one as well. It's safe to say that had Tomlinson gone to almost any other team, he would not have seen these incredible results.

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