From the FanPosts. -Joel
I was watching Trent Green pick apart our Chiefs on the NFL channel (he was being pretty nice actually) and they began discussing Thomas Jones. Seeing Thomas Jones in a Jets uniform reminded me of another Jets running back that was a true iron man. Boomer calls him Curtis "My Favorite" Martin. Whatever you call Martin, he was a pretty good example of what an NFL running back should be. Some interesting facts and a Chiefs connection to Martin and Jones after the jump.
Curtis Martin entered the NFL in 1995 as a third round draft pick of the New England Patriots(coached by Bill Parcells). In his rookie campaign he rushed for 1487 yards and was named to the pro bowl. In his next season, he played in his first career playoff game against the Pittsburg Steelers. He rushed for a FRANCHISE RECORD 166 yds and 3 TDS in that game. He played in a superbowl game as well that year, against the Green Bay Packers. Despite scoring a TD, he and the New England Patriots lost the game. All this in only two years in the league!
Martin went on to amass the 4th highest rushing total of all time. He played for eleven seasons, in each of which he ran for over 1000 yds. He was only the fourth RB in the history of the league to surpass 14,000 career yards, behind Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders. I would say that he is in pretty good company.
Martin was a restricted free agent after the 1997 season, and signed and offer sheet from somebody that we all know and are becoming more affectionate for each day--Scott Pioli. Parcells had moved to coaching the Jets that year and Pioli was brought in as Director of Pro Player Personel. Pioli was also reunited at this juncture with Bill Belechick who was now coaching Parcells defense in the Meadowlands.
In 1997, Pioli rejoined Belichick and was hired by the New York Jets as the team's Director of Pro Personnel. Pioli was credited with the signing of a number of veteran free agents who played critical roles in the Jets' rebuilding process which helped the team rebound from a 1-15 record in 1996 to a 12-4 record in 1998. The 1998 Jets recorded a franchise-high 12 wins and their first division title since 1968.
Of course we also know who else was there during this time and had just been promoted to the position of assistant/quality control coach working closely with then Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis--Mr. Todd Haley.
Are you starting to make a connection here? Doesn't Thomas Jones seem to be the same kind of back that Curtis Martin was back in '97?
The biggest difference is that Jones did not start out of the gate with greatness. Jones was the first round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2000 NFL draft. He was injury prone coming out of the gate. Here is your first round bust right? Taken seventh overall in that draft and the guy can't stay healthy long enough to blow his nose? Can you imagine the fans shrieking on their equivalent of Arrowhead Pride? THIS GUY SUCKS! Yeah, right.
Jones kept fighting and struggled through three seasons with the Cards and was traded to the Buccaneers in 2003. He finally managed to play an injury free season while he was there, but he was not the featured back. He became a free agent in 2004, signed with the run happy Chicago Bears and impressed the right person.
As a free agent in 2004, Jones received his opportunity to be a featured back, signing a multi-year contract with Chicago. In his first season with Chicago, he rushed for 948 yards and 7 touchdowns. After the season, Ron Turner took over as offensive coordinator and installed zone blocking schemes that utilized Jones' speed and ability to make quick decisions.
Hmmm...installed zone blocking schemes? Does that sound like something we have heard before? A preponderance of the evidence will show that Coach Haley installed just such a scheme in Kansas City last year.
Coincidence? Hardly. Thomas Jones has rushed for 3833 yards in the last three years. Only Adrian Peterson has rushed for more. The guy is one of the best kept secrets in the NFL! Just ask someone to name the top RBs in the game right now and I'll bet that Jones name doesn't come up. Thomas Jones is exactly the kind of back that Haley et al have been looking for to match the scheme that has been installed. He is here to help run the rock and school Charles on how to utilize that particular scheme. The year after the Bears installed that scheme, Jones ran for 1335 yards and 9 touchdowns. He had a 4.3 yd/carry avg. Halleluja, in Pioli We Trust!
If you are worried that Jones is old and reaching the end of his abilities, you can stop worrying. This is where the Curtis Martin comparison may be very important. Martin ran for his highest single season total in 2004 at the ripe old age of 31. He is currently the oldest player to win a rushing title having done it in that year.
NFL running backs tend to start breaking down at around 2800 carries and/or 30 years of age. Martin the Iron Man had 3518 for his career. Jones at age 31, only has 2280 attempts because of the injury years at the beginning of his career. He has averaged 308 carries a year for the past 5 years and averaged about 1275 yards per year during that time.
Do you remember the picture of Jones during the early part of OTAs. Several APers mentioned how stoked they were that Jones looked so powerful. His guns were impressive! He is currently at the top of his career and has about two years to go. He could be doing work in KC for the forseeable future, if he and Charles are splitting carries as we have surmised and he can stay injury free.
Pioli, Haley, Weis, Crennel, Jones, Martin, Parcells...the list of connected names is endless. Can I prove that this is what the thinking at One Arrowhead drive has been? No, I can't. What cannot be denied, however is the fact that these guys have one of the NFL play books that contain proven formulas for success. How long has it been since we had that in KC? I would say that since the days of Len Dawson and Hank Stram, we haven't seen it's like.