New York Jets: Is Stevan Ridley the odd man out?


The New York Jets have one of the most crowded backfields in the league and unfortunately for Stevan Ridley, he could be the odd man out. Gang Green returns Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell while adding Zac Stacy on day 3 of the draft in an absolute steal of a trade. New York had to cough up just a 7th-rounder to the Rams in exchange for the 2013 breakout star. On the other hand, the Jets gave Ridley a one-year prove it deal. The only problem is that he has yet to hit the field and it’s already August.

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The ex-Patriot is coming off of a torn ACL which he suffered in Week 6 vs. the Bills. The Pats eventually reunited with LeGarrette Blount and never looked back.

Still on the PUP list in New York, Ridley will find himself behind Ivory, Powell, and Stacy when he is finally activated according to the new depth chart. Daryl Richardson may push him a bit as well, but until Ridley can get a few reps, we’ll truly never find out.

Oct 5, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman (23) attempts to tackle New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, when Ridley played for the most part a healthy season, he ran for 772 yards and 7 touchdowns. On Pro Football Focus, he ranked 24th out of 55 backs who received at least 25% of snaps. Outside of his health, the main issue with Ridley is the ability for him to catch the ball out of the backfield. What helps him in this particular case is that all of the Jets’ backs have the same problem, but he doesn’t differ from any of them in a positive way either.

Ridley is very comparable to Ivory in the sense that he isn’t relatively fast hence why he runs between the tackles and rarely outside. Stacy is more quick and shifty, so if anything, he may be the best option on 3rd down and catching balls out of the backfield. Powell is the most versatile out of the bunch, although he won’t impress you with speed and elusiveness. However, he is a reliable scat back who will hold blocks, pick up key first downs, and move the ball productively down the field game in and game out. What plays to Ridley’s disadvantage is the fact that he is pretty much another Ivory. In offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s spread approach, there is no need for another Ivory.

Aug 7, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) stands on the field prior to the Patriots game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Gailey leans on fast backs who can line up almost anywhere on the field and hurt defenses in one-on-one situations or out in the open. Ridley has shown year after year that he is not that type of back. Like Ivory, Ridley makes his mark on defenses predominately in the red-zone where teams struggle to stop power backs like him when they are on their heels. Once Gang Green moves the ball down the field, he could come to good use, but there is really no point of keeping four running backs in a spread offense.

Another disadvantage for Ridley is his salary. If the Jets were to cut him, they would save close to $1.2 million since only $80,000 is guaranteed. New York would save only a tad more if they part ways with Powell who is due $1.25 million. However, as stated previously, Powell is more useful and versatile which is why the Jets may opt to keep him. Ridley is on the PUP list with no timetable for return at the moment, so his days could honestly be numbered for all we know.

Overall, Ridley has an uphill battle in terms of making the team. In a matter of weeks, he’ll have to hit the field and beat out most likely Powell for a spot in the rotation. Richardson will still be in the mix, but he seems to be the biggest candidate for the practice squad out of the 5 backs. Unless Ridley can make a tremendous comeback and turn heads during the preseason, he will most likely get cut when Week 1 comes around.

Next: New York Jets: What does the preseason really mean?

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