This post is an alternative response to the much respected Jeff Capellini. He recently wrote an article calling for another RB to be brought in sooner rather than later. Jeff lays out a very convincing argument for bringing in a veteran RB to be a safety net for Shonn Greene. We could realistically be running the ball 600+ carries this year. In fear of overusing Greene as our bell cow, bringing in another 1A running back seems like the smart thing to do. My argument is that it isn't something we need or should do right away. I understand the need for some serious depth at the RB position, but we should make sure we don't already have it before we go looking for it.
This off-season has given me time to do a lot of things including re-watching Hard Knocks. It was very hard to see talented guys like Chauncey Washington, and Woodhead being cast aside. The number of roster spots are too few, and a lot of talent is lost to overcrowding. We have a very young and talented RB core. The potential is there for having a more dominant running game than in 2009 or 2010. I would hate to see one of these guys shoved aside for an aging vet, and wind up on another team or worse, the Patriots.
Jeff makes a very good point that using Tebow as a RB in traditional sets would be detrimental to everyone. It's not what he is built for, and doesn't play into his strengths. This makes Tebow a poor option as a replacement for Greene, if something were to happen. With that said, Tebow will be running the ball. He will never be the bell cow runner that we expect Greene to be, but he will get carries. Event though it is far from know how much Tebow will be used this year, I am expecting an AVG of maybe 5 carries a game. His biggest contribution could be in the short yardage game. If we need someone to bang it in on the goal line, or need that 3rd and 2, Tebow can do that.
Next we have Joe McKnight. Joe is someone that I think everyone wants to see with an extended role. Now that LT is no longer with us, McKnight inherits his job. Joe's speed and receiving ability allow him to step right into that role. With a much bigger role in this offense, McKnight will be able to show off his big play ability. I know training camp has only just begun, but everything is pointing to a strong year from McKnight. He can come out of the backfield, or make slower front 7 guys miss with his speed. What McKnight lacks is the size, strength and bulldozer instinct to pound the ball up the middle. Either way, he brings something to the offense that Greene can't.
After McKnight we have 2nd year RB Bilal Powell and rookie Terrance Ganaway. We have seen few rookie seasons as ugly as Powell's. I think after last year, many people were thinking he would be cut this year, me included. In stunning Jets fashion, Powell has stepped his game up and is proving us all wrong. He has come into this year's training camp with a chip on his shoulder, and a passion. Powell and McKnight have been opening eyes each practice. Powell isn't the kind of back that will make everyone miss, or outrun the world. What he does do well, is find the holes, and keeps the chains moving. Bilal also has more skill at receiving than Greene. In his last year at Louisville, he brought in 18 receptions for 153 yards and 3 TDs. It's still very early in training camp, and there is still time for the old Powell to come back. We shouldn't just ignore what he is doing now, and what he can do if this continues.
Last, but not least, there is Terrance Ganaway. Terrance is a powerful RB, that might be more of a FB. There might be a silent competition between him and John Conner. Besides the few bone crushing blocks Conner has made, he has greatly underperformed as a FB. We will be running an awful lot this year, and a FB that can plow the way will be a must. Ganaway is the definition of a power back. His low center of gravity allows him to punish would be tacklers. Once Ganaway gets going, he becomes a bowling ball that is very hard to bring down. He can even show some quickness at times to take it to the house. Unless Conner is cut, Ganaway will be the 4th or 5th RB.
Greene is a tough runner that will wear down defenses as the game goes on. As far as receiving is concerned, his hands are stone. His shiftiness is only 2nd to McKnight. This gives him the ability to occasionally break for a big gain. Greene is an integral part of this offense, but to think we might need another 1A type player isn't the only way to protect ourselves. As it turns out, we seem to have all the qualities of what we need out of a 1A back, already on the team. If we need to punish the defense, we have Tebow , Conner, and Ganaway. If we need shiftiness and receiving skills, we have McKnight and Powell. God forbid anything bad happens to Greene, but if it does, we could take a Billy Bean approach. Let's not try and replace what Greene brings with 1 guy when we can replace him by committee. Either way the team decides to look at our RB depth, the whole running philosophy will hinge on how well our O-line blocks. When it comes down to it, none of our RBs are amazing, and will rely heavily on our O-line regaining their superiority. It doesn't seem like there is a big hurry to sign old vets like grant and Benson. I don't think there should be any rush to sign anyone. I want to give this RB group a try in at least 2 preseason games. If it doesn't look like we might have the makings of a complete RB core, then by all means grab someone. We should make sure though, before young talent is pushed out for a old rental.