Thursday, October 28, 2010

LT’s resurgence vaults Jets to No. 2 rushing attack, best record in football

At 5-1, the New York Jets are right where they want to be: leading the league in wins.

It would be impartial not to thank one of the Jets’ gambles, an offseason free agency acquisition of Ladanian Tomlinson, for the success the team has had thus far as teams approach the halfway mark of the 2010-2011 season.

In fact, the Jets are only one point away from being a perfect 6-0 football team.

Tomlinson and the Jets, along with RB Shonn Greene and the versatile Brad Smith, have boasted an impressive 159.2 rushing yards per game, second to only the Kansas City Chiefs and the workload of former Jets RB Thomas Jones.

Although LT(2) is not the leagues leading rusher, he has already shown the value the Jets believe he still had in only the first six games of the season. He is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in 92 rushing attempts with 490 total rushing yards and five touchdowns.

The league leader in rushing, the Giants Ahmad Bradshaw, has tallied similar numbers: 5.3 yards per carry on 134 rushing attempts while gaining just over 700 yards. Perhaps if Tomlinson’s number of carries were increased he’d be atop the league in rushing alone, but needless to say, the Jets have found themselves a potent rushing attack for the second straight year.

And it seems to be working.

Remember, the Jets No. 1 ranked rushing attack last year led them to an AFC Championship game appearance last January. Now, the Jets are hoping it leads them to somewhere they haven’t been in 40-plus years.

In order to get there, the Jets need Tomlinson to continue to produce with the same fire he has shown in the first six games of the season. Tomlinson needs only 20 rushing yards to reach the 13,000-yard milestone for his career. Six players have rushed for more yards in NFL history and it seems possible that Tomlinson could pass No. 6 Eric Dickerson and No. 5 Jerome Bettis come seasons end.

The resurgence of LT has not only appeared worthwhile on the field, but off the field as well. Tomlinson’s leadership ability, which was oft-criticized in San Diego, has caught the attention of fellow teammates and future Hall of Famer’s in the locker-room.

Fourteen-year veteran linebacker and surefire Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor, who is admittedly not one for rah-rah speeches, expressed that one of Tomlinson’s speeches in particular, one in which LT praised former Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi’s speech on “What it takes to be No. 1,” made him realize what he’s here for.

“We're trying to get a ring, and he wants it, and he wants it bad, and he let us know that," Taylor told Greg Garber of ESPN.

"He didn't just read it," Taylor said, "he almost acted it out. You can tell when something means something to somebody. When they deliver it with such passion, such conviction, it goes deeper. LT delivering it, to me, meant something. It hit home. It got your blood flowing."

Taylor, who came to the Jets for the same reason Tomlinson did, to win a Super Bowl for the first time in his career, now has a copy of Lombardi’s speech hanging in his office.

Perhaps the Jets need Tomlinson for more than they had originally thought.

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