The meandering Jets of the last couple of years that where void of offensive playmakers is no longer the laughing stock of the NFL. With one year under his belt, Jets GM John Idzik had a quiet but productive offseason that most recently inked veteran running back Chris Johnson to a two year deal worth up to $9 million. Considering the Jets desperate need for someone to find the end zone, this deal is quite the good one.
The new formula for success is very similar to the old ground and pound style that Rex Ryan used to take the fledgeling Jets to back to back AFC title appearances in 2009 and 2010. The biggest change comes in the way of two playmakers Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory when comparer to the running back duos of past seasons where speed is what you will find in the back field.
Even though Johnson is not the same player he was in 2009 as far as speed, he will come into the Jets with something to prove. He is still capable of shaking off would be tacklers and gain big yards in the process. Last season, Johnson put together only 5 runs of 20+ yards with an average of 3.9 per carry on 279 attempts. Compare that to 2009 where he garnered 22 carries of 20 yards in 2009.
The good news is that the Jets won’t be asking Johnson to be the workhorse of the backfield though. With Ivory in the line up, the durable work load will be up to him to fill, and last season he proved he can handle it averaging 4.6 yards per carry on 182 attempts. This pair should work together nicely given the mobility factor of both quarterbacks in Geno Smith and Michael Vick opening up the running lanes for both backs.
The only problem right now for the Jets is the overcrowding of the backfield. With Johnson, the Jets now have 5 running backs in the backfield but one could only figure that three would be part of the starting offense for the Jets in 2014. Bilal Powell will most likely see a reduction in snaps compared to a season ago but it is highly unlikely his roster spot will be in jeopardy unless an injury occurs.
In 2013 Ivory and Powell split the work load with Powell averaging 4.0 yards per carry on 176 attempts. He also added to his stats with 36 passed for 272 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per catch. The depth he adds to the backfield will keep him as the viable number three not to mention his pass catching prowess makes him a valuable piece to the offense. The most likely roster cut to the backfield will come via former Green Bay Packer Alex Green, however the hardest roster decision will come with Mike Goodson. Goodson missed most of 2013 due to suspension and injury.
Goodson was an early signing by Idzik in his first season as general manager. Probably the worst move the GM has made thus far. A season filled with off the field issues left much to be desired as it sidelined his season before it even got any traction leading to a 4 game suspension. When he rejoined the team he was noticeably out of shape, only managing 80 yards on nine carries before tearing his MCL and ACL in his knee. His outright release seems imminent during the offseason.
Despite signing Goodson to a three year deal last season there simply isn’t any space left for him on the 2014 roster. New York now has a crowded backfield, but an improved one at that, and they will certainly be the backbone of their offense in 2014, and now they seem just that more capable of scoring points.