Jets running back Shonn Greene burst onto the NFL scene during the playoffs following the 2009 regular season. In three postseason appearances that January, Greene rushed 54 times for 304 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Greene looked like an explosive tackle breaker during his rookie year, but he hasn’t seemed the same since. He played behind an aging LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010, and turned in a mediocre 2011 season, his first year as the Jets’ starter.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films, who studies the game tape, believes limited talent has contributed to Greene’s failure to develop into a dynamic NFL back.
“I think he’s a little bit of a one-speed runner,” Cosell said, “and I think that’s caught up to him a little bit. I think that he’s a strong kid. I think he can run downhill. I think he can move the pile because he’s got natural strength. But I don’t think there’s much burst to him. I think he’s pretty much of a one-speed runner. And I think those guys eventually struggle.
“He can gain yards, there’s no question. But I don’t think he gives you much more than what’s there. And I think it’s tough for those kinds of backs to truly be foundation backs.”
Cosell explained that Greene lacks an ability to create yardage on his own.
“There’s no question that there’s no creativity to his running,” said Cosell. “And when I say creativity, you don’t have to be incredibly elusive. … He’s not a guy who’s really going to make people miss. I think there’s no way you can be an elite back or a top-level back if you can’t make unblocked defenders miss.
“Because in the run game, there’s always going to be a defender that can’t be blocked. That’s what teams do, defensively. You must be able to make unblocked defenders miss. He’s not gonna do that.”