All-Time Lists

NY Jets: Top 10 running backs of all-time

Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
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Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Who were some of the best running backs to ever play for the NY Jets? Here are the top ten running backs to ever wear the green and white.

As we trudge through an off season that once again has Jets fans waiting til next year, I decided to put together a list of the best players to ever play at running back. Since the Jets have mostly been a run-oriented team throughout their history, it’s great to see so many talented running backs come and go.

When the Jets committed to the run, they enjoyed much success against opposing teams. It usually came from having prolific running backs that carried the team straight to victory thanks to always bringing their unique skill-sets to the table.

Here are the top ten running backs to ever play for Gang Green.

Next: 10. A Bruising back

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (50) tries to tackle New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) In the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

10. Chris Ivory (2013-15)

The bruising running back became just the 7th player in team history to rush for 1,000+ yards in a season when he ran for 1,070 yards in 2015.

In his three seasons with the team, Ivory has run for over 800+ yards each season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. After rushing for just three touchdowns in his first season with the Jets, Ivory has combined to rush for 13 in his last two seasons, leading the team in both 2014 and 2015.

Although not noted for his ability as a receiver, Ivory has improved each year in catching the ball out of the backfield, improving from two receptions in 2013, to 18 in 2014 and 30 in 2015. After registering just 32 receiving yards in his first three seasons in the NFL with the Saints, Ivory has combined for 350 in his three seasons with the Jets.

Next: 9. The Diesel

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

9. John Riggins (1971-75)  

Taken with the 6th overall pick in the 1971 draft out of the University of Kansas, Riggins spent just five seasons with the Jets before leaving to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Washington Redskins.

The punishing running back averaged 4.2 yards per carry in his five seasons with New York. Riggins made his mark as a receiver as well, finishing with 129 receptions for 1,129 yards during his tenure with the Jets.

He ranks 6th on the all-time team rushing yards list with 3,880 while his 25 rushing touchdowns is tied for 8th in team history with Kevin Long. Riggins was the first to rush for 1,000 yards when he ran for 1,005 in 1975, which ironically was his final year with the team.

Next: 8. Yo Adrian!

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

8. Adrian Murrell (1993-97)

A 5th round pick out of West Virginia, Murrell spent five seasons with the Jets before finishing his career touring the NFC East with the Cardinals, Redskins and Cowboys.

After rushing for just 317 yards in his first two seasons with the Jets, Murrell had his first breakout season in 1995 when he led the team with 795 rushing yards and 71 receptions.

Murrell then snapped the Jets ten-year drought of not having a 1,000+ yard rusher when he rushed for 1,249 yards in 1996, which at the time was the second most rushing yards in a season for the Jets.

Murrell again rushed for 1,000+ yards in 1997 and averaged 4.0 yards per carry in his career with the Jets, but was traded after the team brought in Curtis Martin in 1998.

Next: 7. Grass is Greene-r

Sep 21, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Shonn Greene (23) carries the ball during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

7. Shonn Greene (2009-2012)

The 3rd round draft pick out of Iowa in the 2009 NFL Draft served as a backup to Thomas Jones in his rookie season, led the Jets averaging 5.0 yards per carry and finished 2nd on the team with 540 rushing yards.

In 2010, he served as a backup to Ladainian Tomlinson, rushing for 766 yards and registering 16 receptions coming out of the backfield. He finally became the Jets’ starting running back the next season. posting consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons, running for 1,054 yards in 2011 and 1,063 yards in 2012.

Greene excelled in the postseason with the Jets as well, as he is tied with Freeman McNeil and Curtis Martin for the most rushing touchdowns in Jets’ postseason history with three.

Next: 6. Keeping Up with the Joneses

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

6. Thomas Jones (2007-09)

After spending the first seven years of his career with three different teams (Cardinals, Buccaneers and Bears), Thomas Jones signed with the Jets in 2007.

Despite running for 1,119 yards in 2007, Jones recorded just one rushing touchdown. However, Jones quickly reversed that trend, as he rushed for 13 touchdowns in 2008 and 14 in 2009 which rank as the top two single season touchdown totals in team history.

Jones rushed for 1,312 yards in 2008 and 1,402 in 2009, joining Curtis Martin as the only two Jets running backs to record multiple seasons of 1,300 yards, while also in 2008 becoming one of just six running backs of the team to be named to the Pro Bowl.

Next: 5. Johnny Be Good

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

5. Johnny Hector (1983-1992)

A 2nd round draft pick out of Texas A&M, Hector excelled in his secondary role with the Jets. Despite playing in 126 games (5th most by a running back in team history) in his ten seasons with Gang Green, he only made 26 starts.

Serving as a backup to Freeman McNeil, Hector registered five consecutive seasons with at least 700+ yards from scrimmage. He recorded his best season in 1989, leading the team with 702 rushing yards while his 330 receiving yards helped him finish with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the only time his career.

Hector ranks third in team history in rushing touchdowns with 41, while also being one of four running backs of the Jets to register multiple seasons of double-digit touchdowns. His 4,280 rushing yards ranks 5th in team history, just five yards behind Matt Snell.

Next: 4. Welcome Matt

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

4. Matt Snell (1964-1972)

A 1st round pick out of Ohio State in the 1964 AFL Draft, Snell was also drafted by the New York Giants in the 4th round of the NFL Draft, but chose to play with the Jets.

One of the signature running backs of the AFL, Snell made his impact felt immediately, finishing 2nd in the AFL in rushing with 948 yards in his rookie season of 1964.  Snell reached the Pro Bowl three times in his career, while being named an All-Pro in 1969.

He remains the only Jet to ever score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, rushing for a game-high 121 yards in the Jets 16-7 win over the Colts in Super Bowl III. Snell finished his career with 4,285 rushing yards, good enough to rank 4th in team history.

Next: 3. You Snooze, You Booze-r

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

3. Emerson Boozer (1966-75)

The 3rd leading rushing in team history with 5,135 yards, Boozer was the running mate of Matt Snell from 1966-72, averaging 4.0 yards per carry in his ten seasons with the Jets.

Like Snell, Boozer was drafted by both the AFL and NFL, as the Jets took Boozer in the 6th round, while the Steelers took him in the 7th round of the 1966 NFL Draft.

Boozer made an instant splash with the Jets in 1966. Using his unique skills as a kick returner, he led the AFL averaging 9.5 yards per touch. A complete back, Boozer recorded 139 catches coming out of the backfield, averaging 10.7 yards per reception in his career, while catching 12 touchdown passes.

He was the first to rush for double-digit touchdowns when he ran for ten in 1967, and is one of just four running backs of the Jets to register multiple seasons of double-digit touchdowns. His 52 rushing touchdowns are the second most in team history.

Next: 2. A Free Man

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

2. Freeman McNeil (1981-1992)

A fleet footed RB from UCLA who left defenders tackling his shadow, McNeil was the 3rd player taken in the 1981 NFL Draft. Despite being the longest tenured RB, his career was hampered by injuries, as only one time in his 12 seasons with the Jets did McNeil start all 16 games in a season.

McNeil played in 8 playoff games with the Jets, the most in franchise history. His 202 rushing yards in the 1982 AFC Wild Card Game at Cincinnati is the most in team history and one of 3 times he ran for 100 yards in the postseason.

His 8,074 rushing yards ranks second in team history to Curtis Martin. He leads the team with 635 postseason rushing yards and is tied with Curtis Martin and Shonn Greene for most postseason rushing TD in team history with 3.

A 3-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro, McNeil is one of just two Jets RB to lead the league in rushing (ran for 786 yards in the strike-shortened season of 1982.)

Next: 1. My Favorite Martin

Oct 3, 2015; London, United Kingdom; New York Jets former running back Curtis Martin speaks to the crowd during the 2015 NFL International Series Fan Rally at Trafalgar Square. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Curtis Martin (1998-2005)

When the Jets signed Curtis Martin away from division rival New England after the 1997 season, they made perhaps their best free-agent signing in team history. Although Martin didn’t come cheap (he was a restricted free agent that cost the Jets a 1st and 3rd round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft), Martin became the greatest running back ever to play for the Jets.

More jets: Greatest starting roster of all-time for the Jets

Martin is the Jets’ all-time leader in rushing yards (10,302), touchdowns (58), average yards per game (83.8), and 1,000+ yard seasons, rushing for 1,000 yards in each of his first seven seasons with the team. A three-time Pro Bowler, Martin was named 1st All-Pro team in 2004 for the only time in his career.

Martin holds the Jets’ single season record for most rushing yards (1,697 in 2004) and is the only player in team history to average 100+ yards per game in a season when he averaged 106.1 in 2004. One of just three Jets to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Martin is also one of just two running backs for the Jets to lead the NFL in rushing in a season (ran for 1,697 yards in 2004).

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