During the offseason General Manager John Idzik wanted to remake the backfield for the Jets. Gone was the plodding Shonn Greene and then the enigmatic Joe McKnight. In came bruising New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory via trade and speedy Mike Goodson formerly of the Raiders via free agency. The vision was Ivory banging away up the middle, Goodson getting to the edge and Powell doing a bit of everything. Then Ivory injured his hamstring (twice) and Goodson was arrested, then suspended for the first four games so we haven’t seen that vision make it to reality. That changes tonight.
Powell has had to carry the load during the first quarter of the season and he has done so and then some. He has shown speed and agility that we hadn’t seen before from him both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. So far he is among the league leaders in rushing with 292 yards and 4.4 yards per carry and an additional 108 yards on 11 receptions. Couple that with his pass blocking and Powell has been an all-around success. He is not used to a workload this heavy so the health and availability of Ivory and Goodson is paramount in keeping Powell fresh.
Ivory has been a disappointment so far with just 72 total rushing yards and a 2.8 yards per carry average. He was brought in to be a feature back and get the lion’s share of the carries but he has battled hamstring injuries and has been passed on the depth chart by Powell. There is a role for Ivory, though, as a bruiser who wears down already tiring defenses in the second half and helps control the clock. He is not a threat out of the backfield to catch the ball but can help further the play-action passing game by being a feared option.
Mike Goodson is the wild card in all of this because we have not seen him in-game action as a Jet. Goodson was arrested before training camp, chose to stay away from the team while he took care of his personal issues (most believe he attended in in-patient substance abuse facility however that information has not been released) then accepted a four game suspension from the NFL for his actions. What Goodson brings is speed and plenty of it. He is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the football which is something the Jets are sorely missing. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield well which is a distinct asset in the West Coast offense. Goodson will be able to help immediately returning kicks as that is a huge weakness for the team. The Jets average having the worst starting field position in the league and need all the help they can get to make Geno Smith’s job easier.
With the wide receiver situation in flux the running backs need to step up and balance the offense. These three players can all impact the game in different ways and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will mix in these players along with fullback Tommy Bohanon to create mismatches. If the Jets are to win in Atlanta this backfield will be a huge reason why.