Jets Signing of LaDanian Tomlinson May Pay Off Big Dividends
(Long Island, N.Y.) Giants Stadium was once the domain of Lawrence Taylor. The linebacker that changed the way defense was played in the National Football League was known merely by his initials and sacked his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
There is another player known by the masses as ‘LT’ who will also be enshrined one day in Canton, Ohio and he will now ply his trade at the Meadowlands, too, albeit the new version and for the other team that calls that stadium home.
When the Jets signed LaDanian Tomlinson to a two-year free agent contract, they made the decision to bring in a player who was considered the top running back in the NFL not too long ago. As a matter of fact, 2009 was the first in nine years where he failed to reach 1,000 yards. Last season, Tomlinson gained 730 yards and scored 12 touchdowns but missed some time with nagging injuries and was not the first option any more in the San Diego Chargers offense.
“I think it’s a combination of different things,” he said. “You look at my career and obviously numbers are meant to go up and down with the type of season you have, but in this case with a change in philosophy, you can also see that my touches went down It is what it is and I’m ready to move on from that with this new opportunity.”
An opportunity that came about was due to the salary cap situations on both the Jets and Chargers. Gang Green led the league in rushing and Thomas Jones was a big part of that with over 1,400 yards and 14 scores. But his production declined as the season wore on and by the time the playoffs came, rookie Shonn Greene had taken over as the feature back. Jones was due a bonus in June and Mike Tannenbaum had a tough decision to make, especially with a player as well respected in the locker room as Jones was.
“We feel like Thomas Jones did a great job for us the last three years,” the general manager said. “He did a lot of things on the field as well as off, but when we looked at all the factors and what we thought was in the best interests of our team, taking all factors into account, we’re really excited about LaDanian. We think that he can still run the ball effectively in our system with our players.”
Five of those players form what is possibly the best offensive line in football. The Jets employ a run-first, smash mouth style of offense and like to pound the ball, which Tomlinson called his “style of football.” And the veteran tailback has no problem playing mentor to the youngster Greene.
“The greatest thing that you can leave in this league is a legacy,” said Tomlinson, “ and teaching young guys that carry on the tradition of running the football. To me, I embrace that role of mentoring the young running backs including Shonn Greene.”
And Tomlinson also sees the nickname he shares with Taylor to be a plus. “The Giants got to cheer on an LT for so long, now the Jets get their chance,” he said.
Different stadium, different player, different era. If the new LT can have half the success that the original one had, things will work out just fine around here.
March 18, 2010 10:00 AM Eastern
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