LT’s Role as a Jet


By Zack Cimini

Stardom as an NFL athlete has shifted from the typical patterns of past greats. A superior athlete in previous generations could ride out that wave of talent for the majority of their career. The tail end truly was that and everyone knew it. Nowadays though teams increased training and aggressive regimens on top of youthful talent flowing in prime shape, careers are having interesting endings. Shaun Alexander literally went from MVP form too not able to run through an alley the size of Jamarcus Russell.

The NFL is a business and teams are going to ride a talented player as much as they can to try and secure that extra win. LT was that workhorse for the San Diego Chargers for a multitude of years and somehow never showed signs of wearing down. Signs weren’t there on the field but the projections based upon his numerous high piled seasons of carries and percentage of involvement in the teams plays was overwhelming.

In 2008, LT staved off injuries that were perceived to the media as slowing him down. Everyone didn’t look at LT’s play as true signs of him losing a piece of his top tier skills. Instead his mere 1100 yards with double digit touchdowns were seen as a warrior like type of year. A year most backs would have missed a string of games and burned disappointed fantasy owners.

The wake up call for the Chargers and everyone was when the keeping or letting LT go talks began. The organization has bit themselves before by letting elite athletes walk away after development had been done with them. Drew Brees and in the case of a running back, Michael Turner, ring a bell. If the Chargers had forked the deal they should of too Turner maybe the Chargers would have had the right mix of ingredients to get closer to a title.

Ownership wised up last year and thought they would not let a Turner type situation develop with a walk out the door and gone view for Darren Sproles. He added an extra spice to their 2008 team that shocked the world and stormed back for an 8-8 season and upset of the Colts. They franchised Sproles but underneath that franchise tag was the teams untrue thoughts on LT. They knew he was not the same back anymore but rather than say that they tried to hide through Sproles. Obviously the team shifted drastically from a pro-run offense in 2009 to a team that relied heavily on Philip Rivers arm.

This day and age that doesn’t work, and getting barely over 1,000 combined rushing yards between LT and Sproles was far below the teams expecations. The mere numbers were strong enough signs to the organization they had to move forward and reconfigure pieces to the puzzle. A shakeup had to happen and that meant letting LT depart. With the strong contenders in the NFL having backfields with seemingly two capable starters, seeing LT (3.3 ypc), and Sproles (3.7 ypc) wasn’t cutting it.

The move was the right move and LT now gets a chance to build a brighter ending to his legacy than foiling extra years in San Diego. He is going to be 32 once the 2010 season begins, but he is on a Jets team that has been one of the best in the league in the ground game. Even though LT will be behind Shonn Greene, it’s a suitable spot based upon the Mark Sanchez’s youth.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jets try to rush the football upwards of 40-45 times a game. A number the team reached or passed on a weekly basis once they controlled Mark Sanchez’s pass attempts. Including fifty seven team rush attempts week seventeen.

Head coach Rex Ryan shifted the Jets season by turning the football into the hands of Leon Washington, Thomas Jones, and Shonn Greene last season. Two-thirds of that second half season resurgence are gone. One area LT hasn’t backed down a bit on is scoring touchdowns. He is still a double digit threat but there are variables to look at for LT as a Jet compared to being a Charger.

San Diego was a quick score high octane offense that never let up. Touchdown drives were plentiful and the team ranked near the top of the league in scoring. The Jets are more of a ball control style team. We think those are significant factors to look at for LT’s 2010 season with the Jets, but it should even out based on the fact that Rivers outdid Sanchez in touchdown passes by more than double. So when the Jets do score it’s typically going to be a rushing touchdown.

For 2010 LT should be a sharp fantasy producer. His value is still strong as he will probably get 10-15 carries a game and has a prime shot at getting double digit touchdowns once again. Being in New York they love to have the spotlight on stars. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets give him extra chances near the goal line to get the extra exposure of getting in the end zone.


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