After being held back for the majority of his six-season career, it’s time for the New York Jets to give Bilal Powell the spotlight and make him their feature running back in 2017.
Heading into the 2016 season, there were high expectations for the group of running backs on the New York Jets. With highly regarded veteran Matt Forte joining returning veteran Bilal Powell, it seemed as if the team would have one of the best running back tandems in all of football.
It certainly didn’t end up being a bad season for the unit as they ranked 12th in total rushing yards, but there was plenty of dysfunction in the way they were managed. Forte, who has been known as arguably the best receiving back in the league for his whole career, was not thrown to very often, and Powell was clearly being underutilized.
The hope amongst Jets fans is that new offensive coordinator, John Morton, will end the dysfunction and get the most out of this unit. That starts with making the clearly superior player, Powell, the team’s feature back.
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By the statistics, Powell clearly performed at a higher level than Forte last season. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry compared to Forte’s 3.7. He also was able to make much more of an impact in the passing game as he caught 58 passes for 388 yards. Forte caught 30 passes for 263 yards.
Another factor that must be considered is the age of both players. Without having ever seen a starting workload at 28 years old, Bilal Powell is evidently in the prime of his career. Forte, at 31 years old, is clearly heading towards the downside of his career. He’s shouldered a starting workload for his whole career dealing with several injuries along the way.
Powell clearly has the upper hand when it comes to speed, athleticism, and flat out elusiveness, which has been a staple of Forte’s game since he entered the league. Powell is also going to be the more durable player considering workload and age.
In game action last season, Powell looked to be the best version of himself that we’ve seen. With the opportunity to be a feature back, he’d have the potential to be as productive as Forte has been throughout his career. It’s time for the Jets to finally see what Powell is fully capable of.