Did the Chiefs get value with Thomas Jones?
Thomas Jones signed a two-year deal Tuesday worth a reported $5 million to become a Kansas City Chief — and I’m wondering why anyone would object to this deal.
Besides the fact that Jones is a veteran back who has shown major production during his career, we’re talking about getting a player with experience for a bargain compared to the spending we saw on Friday.
Jones has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in the last five seasons. He can be counted on when we discuss pass protection and is the type of one-cut runner who fits what Charlie Weis — the Chiefs’ new offensive coordinator — is trying to do in K.C.
When we talk about Weis, we’re often misled into thinking this is a coach who likes to run empty sets on offense all day and throw the ball 50-plus times. But with Weis, even going back to his days with New England before Notre Dame, he’s going to attack defenses until he can expose a weakness.
And then he’ll stick to that game plan.
Part of that game plan includes the running game — the power running game. Weis can bring his Jumbo personnel on the field (3 TE, 1 TE, 1 WR) and run the inside and outside zone, along with the power game, just as easily as he can bring his Zebra personnel (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB), align them in an empty set and run the various route combinations that seem to test NFL secondaries.
With Jones, you now have an accountable running back who can play within this system along with fellow RB Jamaal Charles — who blew up the last month of the ’09 season with games of 143, 154, 102 and 259 yards. Charles will be dynamic and he’ll be used creatively under Weis, but don’t discount the value that Jones brings to this offense.
The knock on Jones is his production during the ’09 postseason when he was essentially replaced in the Jets backfield by rookie Shonn Greene. His yards per carry average during the season sat at a solid 4.2, but it dropped significantly in the playoffs to 2.6 per carry. The emergence of Greene was a good enough reason for the Jets to cut Jones, but in K.C., he isn’t going to be the type of back who gets 20 or 25 carries a game.
And with most running backs in their 30s (Jones will be 32 this season), we tend to proclaim them as dead weight.
Those days of being the workhorse back are gone for Jones, but don’t let that discourage you on his value when he’s playing in a two-back system with Charles. He’s still an ideal player to have in the backfield when the Chiefs enter the red zone because of his ability to hit the hole, keep his pad level low and finish runs. He’ll find a role in this system.
Plus, if you’re the Chiefs, you have to view this as an upgrade. This team needs players and it needs proven players to come into camp, push the younger half of the roster and continue to contribute.
And I’ll always go back to the cost. Because $5 million for a former Pro Bowl running back who always produces is a cheap price to pay to get better as a football team.
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