In an interview posted Friday on the Jets’ official web site, running backs coach Anthony Lynn quipped their ground-and-pound game “will never be dead.” But Lynn, who was promoted to assistant head coach this offseason, noted the Jets' stable of running backs is “more explosive right now” and has “more playmakers than I’ve had in the last couple of years.”
In Rex Ryan's first two seasons as head coach, Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson took over games on the ground. Fast forward two years and all three of those guys are gone. But Lynn said he's excited about the West Coast philosophy new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will bring to the team – and, specifically, his current crop of speedy running backs.
“I think you’re going to see things open up a little bit more,” Lynn said. “You’re going to see these backs in space more than you have in the past.”
Now that Greene’s no longer in the picture (after signing a three-year, $10-million deal with the Titans), the running back competition is “wide open,” said Lynn. “And that’s what you want.”
As for his promotion, Lynn said he’ll be more involved in “decision-making meetings,” but doesn’t expect his overall role to change that much. “I’m still going to be working with the running backs,” he said. “And I’m sure I’ll work more side-by-side with Marty and helping him with some things. But I’ve always tried to do those things, and I’ve always tried to be a sounding board with whoever. I’m excited about the opportunity and we’ll just see where it goes.”
Here are some other interesting takeaways from Lynn’s web-site interview:
On how the West Coast Offense will affect the running backs….
“We’ll have a West Coast philosophy to a degree, but the system has to fit our players – whichever ones we get in the draft, whichever ones we get in free agency.”
On free-agent RB Mike Goodson…
“He’s always been a dynamic back and explosive back…I just think with the offense we’re in now and that skill-set, it’s going to be a good combination. He’s a young guy that’s been in the league. No, he doesn’t have the stats. Someone asked me yesterday: ‘Who’s Mike Goodson?’ People don’t even know who he is. But the man can play. …And the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of tread on the tires means we can put more on him because he’s healthy and he’s rrady to go.”
On Goodson’s skill-set being similar to Joe McKnight’s…
“I don’t think you can have enough of those backs. You won’t need the guy that’s going to pound it between the tackles as much as we did in the past. We’re going to get these guys on the perimeter, we’re going to get them in space, we want to make plays.”
Impressions of Mornhinweg…
“Marty’s a heck of a guy and he’s a fun guy. But the guy knows what he’s doing and he knows football. …We’re still working through our playbook, but it’s been neat looking at the playbook. It’s the one I remember from way back when, so I had to dig up some old notes. But it’s the same system that we ran in San Francisco with Bill Walsh, very similar to what Mike Shanahan ran in Denver. We’re going to get our playmakers the ball and we’re definitely going to push the ball down the field more.”
On Bilal Powell…
“I’m expecting Bilal Powell to really jump off the charts now and really grow. He came away last year, but he’s not there yet. …I think you’re going to see a dynamic Bilal Powell this year.”
On John Griffin…
“He was raw when he got here at first, but I’m expecting John to really compete. Not just be a camp guy, but compete for playing time. He’s a big back – 215, 220 – he’s fast, he’s quick, he can make people miss. He’s done some really nice things that I like.”
On Lex Hilliard…
“He's a hard worker, he’s tough. He was a halfback by trade, but we moved him to fullback, so he’s that classic tweener. He gives you more position flex in the backfield. …And he’s a core special teams guy. You can’t have enough guys like Lex Hilliard.”
Do you need a Shonn Greene-type in Marty’s offense?
“You need someone to step in and be able to do that dirty work. If we played tomorrow, Bilal Powell would have to assume that role. But Lex Hilliard is another candidate for that role. And then, we’re going into the draft. We may find a kid we like that can help us pound it between the tackles.”
Thoughts on this year’s draft class of RBs…
“This is a solid group. It’s a fast group. …And a skillful group. Guys with good hands, guys with good size. It’s going to be a deep draft at running backs, I think you’re going to see a lot of good backs go between that second and fourth rounds.”
Toughest transition for college RBs?
“It’s protecting the quarterback, playing on special teams – which is something they’ve never done before. And just the speed of the game. …But the toughest is probably protecting the quarterback. We pay that guy back there so much money, if you can’t protect him, he’s not going to be on the field.”