#4 (USC#) – Joe McKnight
Joe McKnight had an interesting 2011 season because he didn’t get a great number of snaps at the Running Back position. But he did prove that he deserves playing time, by contributing on Special teams. He blocked a punt at home against the Cowboys on 9/11/11. It helped the Jets make a tremendous comeback in the 4th quarter of the season opener. Joe followed that up with a touchdown on a kick return @ Baltimore a few weeks later. But with Shonn Greene getting the bulk of the carries, and LT contributing as a spark, McKnight had limited touches. That was last year, and this is now.
Now, McKnight is in a Tony Sparano offensive system. Sparano is known to use multiple Running Backs on game day in attempt to be more physical, and eventually wear a defense down. He used this formula in Miami with RB’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
Shonn Greene proved he can be effective last season by rushing for over 1,000 yards, but he needs a RB that has great agility to compliment his bruising running style.
Joe McKnight is that guy. The former USC product has the potential to be a similar Running Back to Miami Dolphins RB-Reggie Bush (USC also). Notice I said similar, because he is definitely not Reggie Bush. Though, he can be a home-run threat. Maybe that is why USC thought he could be their next Reggie Bush when Bush was drafted.
The two running styles are similar because both consist of using explosive cutbacks, that lead to open space, where they then can use breakaway speed to separate themselves further from chasing defenders.
With increased playing time and a new system under Sparano, expect big plays from Joe McKnight. Some things it goes unnoticed. Like, who a young player is surrounded by when they are adapting to life in the NFL.
For McKnight, getting coached up by Anthony Lynn and watching LaDanian Tomlinson everyday in 2010/2011 certainly didn’t hurt the kid. He learned the hard way his rookie year by throwing up in camp and all, but you have to give credit when it’s due. McKnight earned his playing time and that’s what we want to see as fans.
He was dead wrong if he thought he was going to replace LaDanian Tomlinson with an average-at-best work ethic, but the kid is an athlete. He’s bound to have a good year. Sparano needs to use him discretely, when defenses adjust to the deep ball in our passing attack. He can be a deadly threat coming out of the backfield because he creates mismatches; similar to the way Darren Sproles does in the Saints offense. A quick, pass-catching RB in open space is a favorable mismatch when you can get him lined up man-to-man vs a linebacker. If used correctly McKnight will be a great compliment to Shonn Greene, and have a Fantasy League type of year statistically.
What do you think of the rankings?
#5- Aaron Maybin
#4- Joe McKnight
Can you guess #3, #2, or #1?
The countdown continues:
Tomorrow: #3 and #2