Turn On The Jets Roundtable – New York Jets Running Backs Edition

The TOJ staff debates how the New York Jets running back situation will shape up the rest of the season

How do you see the New York Jets backfield shaping up the rest of the season, now that Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell are all back and healthy?

Joe Caporoso – The Jets currently have a good problem at running back, with three capable (when healthy) options who each bring a different skill-set. Bilal Powell should remain the de facto lead back but the days of him receiving 20-25 carries in a single game are likely numbered. I could see him regularly leading the running backs in reps and getting 11-14 carries per game, with a few catches while Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory work into larger roles. Goodson should be a big factor in the passing game along with contribute 4-6 carries on outside handoffs or out of the Wildcat. Ivory has a tantalizing combination of power and speed but shaky hamstrings. If he gets rolling one week, we could see him with 16-18 carries but more than likely he will remain in the 7-10 carries per game range until he proves he can stay healthy and out produce the more consistent and reliable Powell.

TJ Rosenthal –  Marty Mornhinweg will use all three backs some each week. They all bring a different skill set. Powell grinds extra yardage. Ivory gets through the holes hard, and Goodson has the big play speed. Whichever of the three is aiding the offense best on any given day will be the guy the Jets lean on more. Powell will be the guy most trusted late to protect the rock and move the chains.

Mike O’Connor – This has actually become a really awkward situation right in front of our eyes. Everybody was psyched for Chris Ivory to finally be freed this year, but his hamstring frustrations have given Bilal Powell the chance a the starting job, and he’s ran with it. Powell has been excellent in all facets of the game, and for that reason, I find it hard to see Ivory getting in any sort of groove at this point in 2013. Mike Goodson looked fresh and ready to roll as a back who can create yards for himself behind the more disciplined runner in Powell. With Powell’s will to duck his head and churn out extra yards when necessary, I’m not sure Ivory’s running style offers enough that Powell’s doesn’t to be a change of pace back. It’s hard to see Ivory in short yardage and goal line runs, even, considering how patient and effective Powell has been in those regards, too.

It’s a surprise to see everybody’s wonder-boy, Ivory, be the possible odd-man-out this early in the season. But hey, injuries suck, and he came out on the wrong end of a depth chart toss up when soreness came around. If Ivory can consistently show explosiveness and that tenacity he brings when he gets his scarce carries, he may be able to plant himself as Part 2 in a two-back system, but his lead-back role is long gone. If I were to guess, I would say Powell will keep getting the load and amount about 210 carries this season, with Goodson piling up 35 for himself and many receiving situations, with Ivory getting about 50 touches. It should still be an effective, balanced backfield, but it’s absurd how different it looks in magnitude than it did in the early stages of the summer.

Connor Rogers –  The Jets are in a fortunate situation to have three healthy, capable running backs. Even more importantly, each of the runners offer a different skill set. Rather than investing a high draft pick or a really big contract on one premier back, the Jets have invested two fourth round picks and a small contract into these three runners. Let’s break down each guy real quick.

Bilal Powell – The typical “Jets” kind of back. Powell doesn’t possess explosive speed or strength, but has just enough of each to get by. He has good hands and protects Geno Smith in shotgun formations. The most important trait Powell has is his intelligence. He’s easily the smartest playmaker on the offense, from his ball security to knowing how many yards he always needs. Bilal Powell has earned the starting job, working his way from the bottom of the depth chart.

Mike Goodson – The speedster of the offense. Goodson also has good hands like Powell, but he has the wheels to take any ball to the house. Look for his touches to increase as the weeks go by.

Chris Ivory – The power back of the Jets offense. Ivory struggles to stay healthy but he can crack skulls when his legs are churning. He’s perfect as a short yardage runner and has also displayed some speed, cracking a big gain into the red zone against the Falcons on Monday.

Dalbin Osorio – I think Run-BMC (my nickname for Bilal, Mike, and Chris, the Jets trio of running backs) will be leaned on a lot going forward, with Mike Goodson fitting the role of Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory playing himself, and Bilal Powell being used similar to Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas. The Jets, unfortunately, seem hell bent on still using the Wildcat so there will be opportunities for Goodson and Powell to get their yardage out of this formation. However, I do think you’ll see Goodson lined up all over the field as the Jets try to get as many of their playmakers on the field as possible.

Powell and ivory will receive a majority of the carries, and I do think that Ivory and Goodson will be used to keep Powell fresh since he received a majority of the carries during the first quarter of the season. I fully expect for Bilal to continue his breakout season, but the return of Ivory and Goodson may lower his projections just because he may not see enough carries. I do think the three running backs compliment each other very well, because Powell is more of a complete back, Ivory is more power, and Goodson is more finesse. I fully expect for the Jets running backs to limit the amount of fullback dives we’ll see going forward as well. Oh, and the next game against Buffalo? I expect two 100 yard rushers.

Frank GiasoneAs we saw in Monday night’s big win in Atlanta, the Jets stable of running backs appear capable of providing almost everything you could ask for from the position. Whether it’s speed, hard running or the ability to catch passes, the Jets have a guy who’s up to the task. Couple the talent level at the position with an offensive mind the likes of Marty Mornhinweg (who is proving to be up to the task of using all three RB’s creatively and effectively), and the sky’s the limit for the trio.

The real issue for New York, though, is health. Both Ivory and Goodson have yet to prove that they can stay healthy in this league, and while they put together a pretty good game in Atlanta (5.2 YPC average), their history with injuries is something the Jets coaching staff just can’t ignore. Luckily, having (and using) all three RB’s should help not only keep each healthy, but also fresh as the season progresses.

Moving forward, I expect to see a lot of what we saw on Monday. Heavy doses of Bilal Powell, because of his durability and ability to pass protect, combined with gradually increased roles for both Ivory and Goodson. What really excited me on Monday was seeing Mornhinweg using all three backs on the field at the same time. I expect to continue seeing this approach as we move forward, with the possibility of incorporating more read-option plays to help simplify things for his rookie quarterback.

Dan Marcus – If you ask me and I guess they did, I think Powell is developing into too good of a player to not have him take the bulk of the carries. That said three quality running backs is usually better than one and each has their own unique skill set. Powell is just all around solid, doesn’t really do anything wrong, has a decent enough burst, and can pass protect. Chris Ivory is a bruiser who has the potential to bust one when he gets to the second-level unfortunately he is also very good at getting hurt so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up missing a couple more games before it’s all said and done. Now to our Wild Card, in so many senses of the word, Mike Goodson.

In what was a limited role, Goodson did not look like a guy who hadn’t played any kind of organized football since May, he came out of the gates fast and showed flashes of the homerun hitting ability we had all heard about. I guess running from his legal troubles kept him in some pretty decent shape and I’m excited what he can do with more snaps on offense and ultimately on Special Teams. However, everything I just said could be moot if Mornhinweg decides he wants to go all “Air Coryell” but its a situation that bears watching.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports