New York Jets – Veteran Options At Running Back

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With an injured hamstring hindering Chris Ivory’s ability to practice with the New York Jets, coupled with Mike Goodson’s disappearing act (seriously, would anyone be surprised if Mike Goodson turned up with the 14 seconds missing from the Watergate Tapes?) and Joe McKnight’s overall ineffectiveness. It is becoming clear the Jets may need to bring in some reinforcements at running back. Here is a look at five realistic options they can/should target at RB, either via free agency or trade, ranked in order from most likely to least likely. Let’s get to it.

1. Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins

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Breakdown:

Helu, a former fourth round pick in 2011, flashed great cutback ability, elusiveness, and good hands out of the backfield in 2011. He racked up 151 carries for 640 yards and two touchdowns, while adding on 49 catches for 379 yards. Helu was also a solid pass blocker and is still very young as he did not see much playing time behind Alfred Morris last year.

Likelihood

I think this is who Idzik targets after the first preseason game. A trio of Powell, Ivory, and Helu is solid to work with for Marty, Rex, and the Jets offense, and Helu can step in and start if Ivory is down for a prolonged period of time. A 6th round pick should get it done, since Helu is currently behind both Morris and Evan Royster.

2. Willis McGahee, RB, Free Agent

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Breakdown

McGahee, while in Denver, continued his post-20 resurgence by putting up 731 yards on 167 carries (a 4.4 average), with 4 TDs in 2012. He also caught 26 passes for 221 yards before being lost in Week 10 to an injury. McGahee displayed very good burst, solid hands, and provided veteran leadership to a young RB unit.

LIkelihood

Arguably the best of the free agent running backs, McGahee would not be a terrible option as insurance for Ivory and/or Goodson. If both were lost, he could fill in and start, while Powell assumes the 3rd down RB role. The issue with McGahee is that he will be 32 by Week 7, and we all know that most RBs are in the twilight of their careers at that point.

3. Michael Turner, RB, Free Agent

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Breakdown

Back to back 300+ carry seasons for Turner (in 2010 and 2011) caused the former Falcon to lose whatever speed he had left as he posted his worst season since becoming a starter, with 222 carries and 800 yards, although he did post 10 TDs. Turner produced fairly consistently as a starter, and is a veteran presence. However, he struggles catching the ball.

Likelihood

While McGahee would be a better fit, and Turner would make Jets fans think Shonn Greene was Usain Bolt. I could see Idzik rolling the dice on Michael Turner if he lost Ivory for an extended period of time. I can’t see Idzik signing Turner to spell Ivory though, as Turner would be woefully inept as a 3rd down back.

4. Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers

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Breakdown

Hunter played 16 games his rookie year and, as the primary backup to Frank Gore, had 112 carries for 473 yards and 2 TDs. He followed that up by gaining 371 yards on only 72 carries (a 5.2 YPC) before being injured after Week 11. Hunter is versatile, has game breaking potential, and is a willing blocker. However, he did struggle with blitz recognition during his first two seasons, and that’s something that he needs to improve upon.

Likelihood

Even before the injury, Jim Harbaugh seemed to begin to lean more towards LaMichael James in the Pistol next to Colin Kaepernick. It is possible that Kendall Hunter becomes expendable, especially by the trade deadline. A 5th round pick for a good, young running back that will be buried on another team’s depth chart would be a great investment.

5. Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles

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Breakdown

In spot duty for the Eagles last year, Bryce Brown was able to run for 564 yards and four TDs with a 4.9 yards per carry average. Brown was explosive with the ball and out of the backfield as a receiver, and showed good vision out of both I-formation and single back packages. He flashed big play potential and elusiveness.

Likelihood:

While his familiarity with Marty Mornhinweg’s system would help him fit right in, plus both his physical and playmaking similarities to Ivory would endear him to Jets fans, I can’t see the Eagles trading their best back up to LeSean McCoy. It seems like Chip Kelly’s “7 Seconds or Less” offense will require as many quality bodies as possible, which is why Brown is so low on our list. If Brown becomes available, a 3rd or 4th rounder wouldn’t be a bad investment on a younger Chris Ivory.

The Verdict

I think Idzik targets Roy Helu if the situation with Goodson, as well as Ivory’s health, don’t improve heading into the 2nd preseason game. Three guys on this list are back up running backs buried behind more talented running backs, but it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t help the Jets. Idzik has preached competition all offseason and giving up a late round draft choice in a year where you may have as many as 14 draft picks is a worthwhile investment. Running Back is one of the few positions that the Jets don’t have much depth at. If Mark Sanchez struggles, Geno’s there and vice versa. No Holmes? Ok, you have Kerley, Braylon, and Hill. Without Ivory, and to a lesser extent Goodson, the Jets offense may be in trouble this year. I see Idzik taking a chance on one of the five RBs mentioned above, and adding depth to the New York Jets running back core.

  • John Fedeyko

    I like those choices. I whould see idzik Going
    A veteran like a turner. Willis. Not a bad core

  • Joe Barra

    I like Helu a lot but it’s worth noting that injuries were a big part of why he never saw the field last year. He was on IR in September. If Helu is healthy he’d be a great addition, but he had injuries to both Achilles tendons and turf toe.

  • KAsh

    Is this really an area of concern?

    The Green-White Scrimmage showed that even our backups can run, especially with the first string o-line. Powell had a 24-yd gain against the first defense. I believe Bohanon had a 9-yd gain on first down. Spann and Griffin had good games. We brought in another backup RB from the Bucs, and that is all we will need until and if they stumble in the preseason games.

    The bigger problem might be the run defense. Thankfully, it is early August, but that had shades of 2012 all over it. We will need to see some film to determine whether the o-line was just that dominant, the RBs stepped up, or who in the front seven is underwhelming, but perhaps that is the unit we should focus on.

  • Simon

    Good read thanks ! I think you are spot on too

  • Viguy007

    There is every reason to believe Mike Goodson is in Rehab. The team knows where he is, and have no problem with it. They do not talk about it, since as his employer it is illegal to do so. The media is also quiet about this, there are no “where is he” investigations. Mike Goodson of the New York Jets is just not that big, so there is no money in it for gossip tabloids who are willing to pay reporters and paparazzi. While a bona fide journalist has protection under the constitution, as interpreted by the courts, from the non-disclosure laws, the person who leaks a story or provides information to the reporter is not. Whoever gave the reporter information is doing something illegal. They are at risk for punishment by the state, their employer or whatever.

    It seems that the case for the gun charges is weak, since the driver of the car told the police the gun was his. So if Goodson has already completed Rehab it is likely there will be no jail time for the Pot found on him. Goodson is being proactive rather than reactive, the team knows this, that is why Rex is not frustrated. Completing Rehab also means the NFL is less likely to suspend him for more then one game, if that.

    I use to make referrals to Rehab programs in my job so I would like to explain some things about Rehab programs. You did not have to be an addict to go to rehab. All you had to do was feel that your abuse of a substance was causing a problem in your life and you wanted to stop. In theory, addiction only occurs when there is a physical dependency like heroin or alcohol. But a person could have a psychological dependency, and not be considered an addict. Yet they are having problems because of the abuse. That person should also go into a rehab program, although not an addict. The problem may be getting drunk once a week on Saturday nights. But if you missed work on Sunday, to this extent it was causing problems in your life. If you can not stop this behavior on your own, you should go to rehab. But rehab is very, very expensive since you are an inpatient, so self-help programs, such as AA, exist for problems with a dependancy. But these programs can not work with a true addiction. Their rate of success is not as high for a dependancy as are formal Rehab programs.

    A program can be as short as 28 days and as long as a year. It depends on the type and severity of the problem. In Goodson’s case there is an indication that it is for both pot and alcohol with alcohol being the greater problem. By law, the Jets can not say he is in rehab, it is a medical problem. The Rehab programs can be modified for special situations, a trainer can be brought in, in fact some type of physical activity is a part of most programs. Goodson has a lot of time for reading and studying the playbook. A program is not prison, and it is not meant to punish, but is client-centric and meant to improve the quality of life. Including running the ball since that is Goodson’s job.

    People think Rehab is a bad thing, it is not. Rehab is short for rehabilitation and is vindication of a person’s character and the re-establishment of that person’s reputation. It is a good thing not a bad thing. Rehab is nothing more then a period of time for isolation from the people and triggers that cause you to abuse the substance. It is also a chance for the substance to drain from your body and your body to adjust to once again being substance free. Doctors are there so that if you have a physical addiction, not just a dependency, they can treat the side effects of withdrawal (DT’s or “delirium tremens in the case of alcohol). These are combined with a education program in order to learn how to avoid the abuse of substance in the future. When completed it is followed by an outpatient program for support and reinforcement.

    The most important thing is the client wants to change their behavior, it can not be forced on someone and be successful. Goodson wanted to change, because of the character defects his usage caused, and that is a good thing.