The people who criticized the Jets for bringing in Chris Johnson in the offseason saw an injured running back coming off a season where he wore down (but still had 321 touches over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns). They wondered if he still had enough in the tank to carry a run-heavy offense in New York. According to Running Backs coach Anthony Lynn, those people need not worry because the Jets realize to get the most out of Johnson, less means more.
According to an article by Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Lynn said:
“He’s got some miles on him,” Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn conceded. “So we’re going to have to be strategic in how we use him, and when we use him, to keep him fresh so that he can be the explosive guy that I know that he can be.” 6/25/14 NJ.com “Jets don’t expect Chris Johnson to be a workhorse running back” by Dom Cosentino
Rex Ryan is also considering keeping Johnson on a “pitch count” meaning he will have reduced reps and more days off to keep him fresh for the season. This was how the Jets got the best out of LaRon Landry and I would expect the same to be true here.
The Jets split the carries last year nearly exactly down the middle with Ivory getting 182 and Powell getting 176 with those rushes generating a fairly robust 1,530 yards on the group. Johnson being inserted into the mix should help oft injured Chris Ivory stay healthier as well. Johnson’s speed to the edge and pass catching ability (averaging 40+ catches per year) brings a dimension that wasn’t there for the Jets last season. Chris Ivory remains the power runner of the group while Bilal Powell has a varied enough skill set to substitute for either back. So the Jets have a formidable three-headed monster at running back.
While in the past Johnson has been against running back by committee but now he is starting to realize that a full workload isn’t the best thing for him at this stage of his career (turns 29 this year). Johnson said:
“This year, it’s about winning,” Johnson said at the time. “I want to come into a program where I think we could win. And if that’s what the coach feels we [have to do to] win, then that’s what we have to do.” 6/25/14 NJ.com “Jets don’t expect Chris Johnson to be a workhorse running back” by Dom Cosentino
Running back is one of the best and deepest positions that the Jets have in 2014. We haven’t even talked about Daryl Richardson, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a rookie in 2012 before suffering through a turf toe injury he sustained Week 1 in 2013 that dogged him all year. So whatever the roles turn out to be Chris Johnson will be a major part of the Jets offense this year, and though he has a lightened workload the extra rest will ensure that less means more.