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Shonn Greene, Come Out and Play

LaDainian Tomlinson has moved in front of last year's playoff hero

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Oct 1, 2010  |  Updated 6:54 AM EDT
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Earlier this week we discussed some of the biggest surprises of the young Jets season. Unmentioned in that conversation was Shonn Greene.

That was probably a mistake, because he was expected to be a major contributor to this Jets season. His breakout performance in the playoffs -- 5.6 yards per carry and two touchdowns -- helped ease Thomas Jones and Leon Washington out the door and the Jets believed they had the feature back they needed to help keep the heat off of Mark Sanchez. They signed LaDainian Tomlinson, but he was never talked about as anything more than a complementary piece. This was to be Greene's year to shine. 

It hasn't turned out that way at all.

Tomlinson has seven more carries and seven more receptions than Greene and he has been in the game much more often than the guy who is nominally on top of the depth chart. There are a few reasons for that, dominated by the fact that Tomlinson has been much more productive. He's gaining two yards more per carry than Greene and hasn't fumbled, while Greene put the ball on the carpet twice against the Ravens.

There's more to it than that, however. The Jets have used Tomlinson in a wider variety of ways than they've used Greene thus far. When Tomlinson is in the game, the Jets have used different formations and varied their playcalling to keep defenses guessing whether or not they are running or passing. With Greene, it has been much more slanted to the run with defenses naturally picking up on that key and loading up to stop him when he does get a handoff from Sanchez.

That's something that could change this weekend against the Bills. Assuming the Jets can run out to a lead, this is a good week to concentrate on getting Greene into the offensive flow while also giving Tomlinson a week to avoid any bumps and bruises. Greene was at his best when hammering defenses and the clock with a lead in the playoffs and, in general, the Jets could use a little more of that mindset after working so hard on establishing the aerial game in the last two weeks.  

Given recent history against Buffalo, it's not the safest assumption that the Jets will be playing with a lead but Greene should still be a focal point this week. His first three weeks aren't any reason to panic, especially when you recall how Jones broke down late last season, but seeing a bit more of the Greene we remember would be a nice way to quiet fears that the whole thing was just a flash in the pan.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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