First off, a very heartfelt thank you to New York Jets fans for reading and for the comments. I read all of them and try to respond as much as possible. I really appreciate the feedback, and I am glad that you guys have enjoyed my articles. Kudos to you. Now, on to the film room.
The New York Jets rushing attack ranked 6th in attempts, 12th in yards, and 13th in touchdowns in 2012-2013. These are solid numbers considering teams didn’t have to fear the Jets beating them in the air and they could put 8 men in the box. However, their yards per carry was ranked 23rd in the league, a clear sign that the running game’s high yardage output was due to the 494 team rushing attempts.
This was a running attack that lacked explosion and big play ability. New Jets General Manager John Idzik seemed to realize this when he targeted former Raiders and Panthers running back Mike Goodson early in free agency. However, the team clearly signed Goodson to be a change of pace back in new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system. A change of pace back for who, though? Shonn Greene wasn’t going to be re-signed, and ended up getting overpaid by Tennessee. Bilal Powell is not the answer at RB long term, as his talents are more suited to being a third down back who can excel in blitz pickup. Idzik knew that the feature back he, and Rex, needed to make this season a success wasn’t on the roster yet. That is, until Idzik traded for Chris Ivory.
As we approach the first preseason game on Friday night, it appears that the Jets are being very cautious with the 6’2″, 222 pound former Tiffin Dragon and his ailing hamstring. However, if healthy, Ivory is a clear upgrade over Shonn Greene. Let’s break down some film on “The Kraken”, so Jets fans can continue to get xecited about the possibility of having this beast running behind what should be a much improved offensive line.
Play One – 35 yard TD run
The Saints come out in a single back formation with dual TEs and one WR to the left . The FB is sent in motion to the right side of the formation. The defense is lined up in a 4-3 with the defensive line shifted to the left, and the strong safety moving up to the line of scrimmage after the FB is sent in motion. It will be Chris Ivory’s job to hit the hole that his offensive linemen, TEs, and/or FB make for him depending which direction the run is in. Ivory gets a handoff up the middle and hits the hole to the left of the formation, created by the TE, LT, and LG.
No jump cuts, no dancing, just straight speed through the hole.
Ivory does exactly what he’s supposed to do and hits the hole with a head of steam. The FS has a shot at him, but Ivory is able to extend a straight arm to swat him away while using his speed to put yards between himself and the two other defensive players chasing him. This was his first carry of the game and resulted in a touchdown.
Play Two – 11 Yard Run
The Saints come out in an I-formation again, but this time with one TE to the right of the formation and two WRs to the left of the formation. Ivory can do one of a few things; he can follow his fullback through which ever hole is made by his guards, or he has the option of cutting the run to the outside where his tight end may have sealed off his man and given him prime real estate to work with. Ivory follow his lead blocker, before bouncing the run to the outside for 11 yards and going out of bounds.
Play Three – 4 Yard Run
The Saints come out with a two tight end, one WR, I-formation set. It is up to Ivory to choose whether to follow his lead blocker, or use either tight end’s block to reach the 2nd level, where he can go one on one with a safety or DB. The FB is sent in motion to the right of the formation, behind the 2nd TE.
Ivory takes a straight handoff and has a huge hole, thanks to a great drive block by the left guard. He is able to hit the hole untouched before being brought down by the strong side linebacker after a four yard gain.
Play Four – 5 Yard Gain
The Saints come out in a I-formation with two tight ends (one to each side of the formation) and a WR to the left of the formation.
The OL engages all of the defensive lineman, but the FB does a poor job of engaging the middle linebacker, so Ivory appears like he will be stopped at the line of scrimmage. However:
Ivory is able to lower his head, showing elusiveness for a man his size, and gains 5 yards on a play that would’ve netted nothing or a loss if not for Ivory’s shiftiness.
Chris Ivory finished this game with 19 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown as the Saints routed Carolina. He displayed speed, power, elusiveness, and a vicious burst through holes. He also showed a willingness to initiate contact, but he wasn’t stubborn enough to initiate it when he could bounce a run outside and gain more yardage. He wasn’t in on passing plays, so I was unable to assess his pass blocking prowess. The Saints used Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas as pass catchers and blockers, with Ivory being the bell cow of the trio.
Ivory averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year, despite being in a crowded backfield with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, scatback Darren Sproles, and Pierre Thomas. He’s also got limited wear and tear for a 25 year old running back as he’s only played in 24 out of a possible 48 games. He has battled nagging injuries, but he’s also been stuck in an offense that doesn’t run the ball very much. Again, if he’s healthy there is no reason to think that his career line of 256 carries, 1,307 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 8 TDs, and 72 first downs won’t be his line for next season.
I know Jets fans are worried, and rightfully so, because he isn’t practicing consistently right now. However, you need Ivory to win games from September through January, not in August. Plus, this experience will be very helpful for Bilal Powell and Ivory will be that much fresher for Week 1 against Tampa Bay, and beyond.