Yesterday, we took a look at the New York Giants backfield. Today, we’ll shift our focus to Gang Green. Last season, only four teams (Cincinnati, Miami, Carolina and the Jets) ran the ball 500+ times. The Jets led the league with a whopping 607 rushing attempts, 82 more attempts than Carolina. Gang Green’s 172.3 YPG were easily the most the league. However, the Jets allowed 2/3 of those carries to walk in the off-season. After being shunned by the Jets, Thomas Jones took his 1,402 yards and 14 TDs to Arrowhead Stadium. Leon Washington, who was unable to secure a long-term deal from the Jets and subsequently broke his leg last year, was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks. What have the Jets done to fill the large void created by Jones and Washington absence?

With the 31-year-old bruising Jones leaving the Meadowlands, the Jets brought in a 31-year-old running back to replace him. LaDainian Tomlinson, one of football’s all-time great rushers, will look to fill some of the void created by Jones.  Tomlinson ran for 730 yards and 12 TDs in 2009. After watching his yards per rush steadily decline over the past four years (3.3 YPC in 2009), many have already written off LT2. Tomlinson does not need to be the workhorse back though he was during his historic tenure in San Diego.

Enter Shonn Greene. The second year pro out of Iowa captured the attention of all NFL fans with his performance during Week 16 against the Colts. Greene rumbled for 95 yards as the Jets mounted a comeback to top the Colts, 29-15. Greene ran for 304 yards, posting an impressive 5.6 yards per carry in three post season games. Greene’s last-season emergence earned him the trust of the coaching staff. Ultimately, his performance allowed the Jets to not pick up Thomas Jones’ three million dollar option. Expect Greene to assume the workhorse duties in the offense.

The Jets drafted runningback, Joe McKnight in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. McKnight rushed for 1,014 yards at an impressive 6.2 YPC while adding 146 yards receiving at USC last year. McKnight figures to see some action, assuming duties as a dual-threat back.

What about the offensive line?

Guard Alan Faneca was cut in April after the Jets drafted mauler, Vlad Ducasse from Massachusetts. Disgruntled center Nick Mangold is in the final year of his contract, but has not received a new deal. Mangold will play the 2010 season, but expect him to cash in during the off-season. Left tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson did receive a massive extension in June. The Pro Bowler Ferguson had two-years remaining on his rookie contract, but not the Jets have him for eight-years at $73.6 million. Ferguson contract is priceless, given the protection he provides for $28 million quarterback, Mark Sanchez.

The Jets offensive line is one of the best in the game, expect nothing less than a Top 5 rushing finish.

Predictions?:

The Jets ran the ball 607 times last year. 607. 607. 607. That is a lot of carries. Do I expect them to match that total this year? Probably not. Sanchez will make some strides as a passer and the team brought in Santonio Holmes, who will join the team in Week 6. Make no mistake: The Jets are a running team. Expecting the Jets to log 525-550 carries this year seems more realistic.

Fearless Projections:

Greene: 275 carries, 1,350 yards, 9 TDs

Tomlinson: 200 carries, 725 yards, 9 TDs

McKnight: 75 carries, 300 yards, 4 TDs