Ever since the Kansas City Chiefs signed RB Thomas Jones away from the New York Jets, they have been praised by fans and media alike for getting the veteran at such a great value. CBS Sports’ Clark Judge says the Jets have clearly downgraded their running game by replacing Jones with a player in LaDainian Tomlinson that just a few years ago would never have been available.
The numbers explain why: For the first seven years of his career he averaged 338 carries a season, or more carries than Hall of Fame back Earl Campbell had in his career, and 4.5 yards per attempt. But in the past two seasons he dropped to an average of 257.5 carries and 3.57 yards per try — including a career-worst 3.3 in 2009.
Do the math. This is a descending back who is at or near the end of the line, and I became convinced not in the Chargers’ playoff loss to New York but in their regular-season defeat of Kansas City nearly three months earlier. On one series the Bolts gave the ball to Tomlinson three times at or inside the Chiefs 2, and he not only didn’t score; he lost a yard against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense.
Three years ago, that wouldn’t have happened. Then again, three years ago the Jets couldn’t have gotten their hands on LaDainian Tomlinson. Nobody could. In fact, nobody did.
That should tell you what L.T. has left.
Now look at what Jones did for the Jets last season. He carried 331 times. He gained 1,402 yards. He scored 14 times. More important, he hasn’t missed a game in four seasons, has averaged 1,276 yards over the past five and is coming off the best season of his career. LaDainian Tomlinson is coming off his worst, so someone please tell me how trading L.T. for Thomas Jones makes the New York Jets better.
I have yet to talk with anyone (Chiefs fan or otherwise) that understands why the Jets would swap Jones for Tomlinson.
The only issue I have with Jones on the Chiefs is there is a possibility that Jamaal Charles goes from overused to underused, but it’s a good problem to have when his backup is coming off a 1,400 yard season.