We’re back for this week’s running back grade sheet for the New York Jets from their heartbreaking loss to division rival New England. let’s get to it.
Rushing Yards: 175
Yards Per Carry: 5.0
Rushing TDs: 1
Total Yards: 224
Yards Per Touch: 5.3
Total TDs: 1
Team Grade: A
The New York Jets running backs delivered their best game of the year last Thursday against New England. As a group, they ran hard and effective and credit should go to the Jets offensive line for simply mauling the Patriots defensive line. We can start with Chris Ivory, who continued what is shaping up to be a borderline Pro Bowl year through the first half of the season. He consistently put the Jets in 2nd and manageable situations all game as he averaged almost 6 yards per carry on first down. Midway through the second quarter you could see Patriots defenders begin to flinch as Ivory neared because they just did not want to tackle him. It was an impressive performance by Ivory, as he kept his legs moving and also was able to find the end zone.
Then there is Chris Johnson. As you guys know, I have not been a fan of his running once he signed here. He hasn’t been utilized appropriately in my opinion. However, in this game Chris Johnson played his very best. He was as decisive as Chris Ivory and made the most of his carries. He was also pretty good in blitz pickup. There was one play in particular where Geno Smith motioned Johnson to his left in shotgun and Johnson completely stonewalled Chandler Jones coming off the edge. It gave Geno time to find Jeremy Kerley for a first down that kept the drive alive. Bilal Powell was used mainly in 3rd down packages, and he did have both a 7 yard run and a 12 yard reception. Powell is criminally underutilized by the Jets, and I would expect that to continue going forward as long as Ivory remains healthy. Kudos to all the running backs, including fullback John Conner, for playing a tremendous game.
The Jets host the 4th best run defense in the NFL on Sunday as they play the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo’s defense had gone 4 straight games without allowing 100 yards rushing until that streak was broken by the Minnesota Vikings last week. Jerick McKinnon averaged 5.4 yards per carry and went over 100 total yards. The Jets should have success running the ball with Ivory, Johnson, and Powell. The addition of Percy Harvin makes this an easier matchup for the Jets because Buffalo won’t be able to put 8 men in the box to defend the running backs. The Bills are 4-3, and have played better with Kyle Orton, but their defense did struggle with defending the run last week. The Vikings did try to use Cordarelle Patterson on a Jet Sweep one play, but it wasn’t successful. I’d look for the Jets to use their running backs in a similar fashion to their gameplan against New England. Something I’d also look out for is the Jets using the run to set up some playaction shots down the field.