It was made clear today that the Jets have no intention of bringing in LaDainian Tomlinson in for a cameo role. Holding a media conference call, GM Mike Tannenbaum indicated that LT will be counted on as a key contributor in 2010.
“When we looked at LaDainian’s body of work, being in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, being able to catch the ball, being able to be — we still think — an every-down, very effective runner, there were a lot of things we liked,” said Mr. T. “We think Bill Callahan is as good as anybody coaching the offensive line and we thought we had a really good story to tell LaDainian about our team, our personnel and his role in our personnel. And obviously he felt comfortable, too.”
Schottenheimer, who is beginning his fifth season as offensive coordinator, served as the Chargers QB coach from 2002-05. During those years, Tomlinson never rushed for less than 1,335 yards or caught fewer than 51 balls. In 2003 he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards (1,645) and total 100 receptions.
“I know Brian has big plans for him. I think he’s going to do a lot of different things and maybe we’ll see LaDainian and Shonn in the same backfield or LaDainian and Leon,” Tannenbaum said. “We’ll see how it plays out, but I think there are going to be a lot of different ways that we’re going to try to use him and it’s just another club Brian has in his bag now.”
Before being released by the Bolts, Tomlinson rushed for 1,110 yards in 2008 and then a career-low 730 yards in ’09. The 5’10”, 221-pounder has amassed 3,410 touches in his nine-year career, but the Green & White believe he’s got a lot left in those magical legs.
“He’s not had the production the last two years that he had earlier, which are obviously Hall of Fame numbers,” said Mr. T. “But we felt he still had the ability to make people miss, he still had 12 rushing touchdowns [last season] and he was productive in the passing game. He had 52 receptions in ’08 and 20 last year, and he still is a very good pass blocker.”
Tannenbaum also raved about Tomlinson’s character. After losing a locker room leader in Thomas Jones, the Jets think they’ve added another tremendous presence.
“I think we’re getting a 10-plus," Tannenbaum said. "I think we’re getting a rare, rare person, someone with tremendous humility, confidence just about the team. I couldn’t say enough things about him as a human being and I think he’s going to be a great fit for our locker room, a lead-by-example guy, and I think he’s a man’s man.”
With improvement from a pair of critical youngsters — QB Mark Sanchez and RB Shonn Greene — and the acquisition of Tomlinson, Tannenbaum thinks the Jets have a chance to be a more dangerous attack next season.
But much was made about the Jets’ March 5 release of Jones, a player in 2009 whose 1,402 yards set a career high and whose 14 rush TDs earned him a franchise mark. Tannenbaum confirmed today that the club had discussions with Jones’ representation after his contract was terminated, but he says LT and TJ should be viewed as independent cases because “their contracts were different, their structures were different and they’re two different situations.”
“We had ongoing dialogue with Drew Rosenhaus, who we have a great relationship with, and TJ throughout the process,” said the Jets GM. “But at the end they felt comfortable going to Kansas City, and we went in a different direction and we’re comfortable with that.”
It will be interesting to see how Schottenheimer works the backfield with Tomlinson, Greene and Washington (an RFA at present). The Jets have also been complimentary of Chauncey Washington and more help could be on the way in the draft. But LT’s going to be on the field early and often.
Tags: Brian Schottenheimer, LaDainian Tomlinson, Leon Washington, Mark Sanchez, Mike Tannenbaum, Shonn Greene
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