With a return to the ground and pound offense the New York Jets need to find a star in their crowded backfield. While handing off early and often can help to win games, a game changing back is what teams who utilize this philosophy need to posses to win consistently. Without a clear cut star Jets fans are left with the question of who will be the breakout running back in 2012?
My answer to this question is Joe McKnight, the shifty back drafted out of USC in 2010. So far throughout his NFL career McKnight has had a minimal impact on the offense, getting a few touches a game and contributing when asked. The lack of production from McKnight is due to a variety of reasons, from a lack of conditioning, to limited understanding of the playbook under old offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
With a new simpler offensive system and no holdout this season McKnight should have no issues understanding the new playbook. While his strength and conditioning has vastly improved from his first two seasons, no one should expect this small statured back to be a force up the middle. McKnight has game breaking speed and can give defenses headaches in the open field when he gets up to speed. Hopefully the new offense features enough misdirection and stretch plays to get him out on the edge of the defense where he has the ability to consistently bust big plays.