Shonn Greene Accepts Role as Jets Soar
This is the case with the New York Jets. As they put it together now, as they won their fourth straight game by punching the Vikings 29-20 on Monday night, offensive roles continued to be spread and redefined. Receiver Santonio Holmes joined the bunch for the first time and had nine balls thrown his way. That meant fewer tosses toward others, including tight end Dustin Keller (five, resulting in two catches for 14 yards). Keller noticed. Not the thing a fresh, uprising, green force wants to see.
This is a challenge the Jets coaches will meet. Rex Ryan has built a team preaching team-concepts first. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's voluminous offense insists on the same. Ryan and Schotteheimer know some days you get it, some days you don't.
Did we win? Sit down.
This is a lesson running back Shonn Greene, in only his second season, is mastering.
The Jets granted Thomas Jones freedom to Kansas City during the offseason because A.) They did not consider him a $6.2 million back, the money he was owed this season and B.) Greene emerged as a rookie a year ago with a nose for toughness and a style all ground-and-pound.
Leon Washington was discarded, too, to Seattle. That is how confident the Jets were in Greene. LaDainian Tomlinson? He would be a complement to Greene. Sure, Greene and Tomlinson would compete in camp. Nobody expected Greene to lose.
And he didn't. He was the starter in the opener vs. the Ravens. And he fumbled, the Jets' only turnover this season. He started the next week against New England. And Tomlinson has started the last three.
The Jets are 4-1 because they exhibit a resiliency, a roughness, even on special teams, that any competitive football team must possess. They have a prime chance to reach 5-1 by winning at Denver on Sunday before their bye because this Jets defense has three levels of playmakers across the field and a belligerent scheme that players treasure.
They are flying now because their quarterback, Mark Sanchez, is developing and their running game is No.1 in the league.
And equally important, Greene is accepting his role. Flourishing in it, really.
"They said I was the main guy and all that stuff and in the preseason I was starting,'' Greene said. "In the preseason when LT was getting his carries, I thought, 'Well, they must be getting him used to the offense.' The first game I start. Not a good game; I put the ball on the ground. And that changed it, starting there.
"I thought it was kind of unfair. I didn't think I was given the best opportunity to see what I could do as the starter. LT, trust me, he makes it easier. He's understanding and supportive. I have gone back to the role I had with TJ (Thomas Jones). I have put the team first.''
Some guys are simply better being the chaser. The closer.
Some backs have that gift of power (Greene is 5-foot-11, 226 pounds) and punch that when they enter as a feature back in the second half of games against worn defenses, they severely punish.
Greene did this on Monday night to the Vikings.
One Vikings defender said that Greene's 23-yard touchdown run with 4:30 left, the Jets' only offensive touchdown of the game, "was the real dagger in our hearts.''
It came on "30 Swerve.''
Greene explained: "It's a misdirection play. Start left and slant. Come back and follow the fullback (rookie John Conner). If he kicks the end inside, you break it outside. That's what happened. Nothing but green. Green is good. A good sight.''
The Jets rushed 32 times for 155 yards against the Vikings. Tomlinson gained 94 of it on 20 carries, Green 57 on 10. It was a significant accomplishment for the Jets -- no team in Minnesota's last 53 games had rushed for more than 150 yards against the Vikings' nasty run defense. Thus, the Jets snapped what had been for the Vikings the second-longest such streak in modern NFL history.
"TJ texted me and congratulated me on the score,'' Greene said of Thomas Jones. "There is a role late in games when it is crunch time and you need to sustain drives and you're fresh. They're tired and I'm just starting to get going. I'm 25. You learn from certain experiences. How to go about things. How to grow up. How to accept things and take a role and make it work for you and for the team. It hasn't always been easy, I've made mistakes, but I'm trying to maximize my talent and my ability for the team.''
It is an example, a model that should serve the Jets well.
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