Jets Early Roster Preview: Running Backs

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Jets running back room will have a brand new look in 2019. Mike Maccagnan reloaded with star talent to accompany Sam Darnold in the backfield.

The New York Jets went out with the old and in with the new regarding running backs this offseason. They cut Isaiah Crowell and let Bilal Powell walk in free agency, while bringing in two new backs for the 2019 season.

The Jets desperately needed a change at the running back position. Their rushing offense was among the worst in the league last season, averaging just four yards per carry, which ranked 29th in the league. If they want to see Sam Darnold succeed, a good running game is a huge priority.

Mike Maccagnan and Adam Gase made the right decision in making the running back position a focal point this free agency. They acquired two great talents that will help the offense evolve as a unit. And one of them is really, really good.

Le’Veon Bell

The Jets went all in on acquiring Bell this offseason, giving Bell a four year, $53 million deal which includes $25 million guaranteed in the first two years. Bell, who’s arguably a top five running back in football, will make a gigantic impact on the Jets offense.

Bell could be the one to flip the switch and activate the Jets’ offense. The Jets struggled to run the ball well in 2018, averaging less than three yards per carry in six games. SIX. Even averaging less than four yards per carry is underwhelming. Averaging less than three? Six times? That’s an atrocity.

Insert Bell into the Jets offense, and this problem should diminish. Bell has averaged less than three yards per carry once in his last three seasons. This is an extremely impressive feat. Bell will provide elite play at a consistent level for the Jets.

#Jets RBs as a group ran for fewer than 3.0 YPC six times in 2018

Le'Veon Bell ran for fewer than 3.0 YPC one time over his most recent three seasons

— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) March 13, 2019

Adding a talent as good as Bell will boost any offense in the league. Adding him to a sophomore quarterbacks backfield just makes it that much more beneficial. Bell will take a huge load of pressure off of Darnold’s shoulders. Whether it’s as a runner, a pass catcher, or even a blocker, he will be a game changer for Darnold.

Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery also joined the Jets this offseason, signing a one year deal with the team. Montgomery’s incredible is versatility is something the Jets haven’t had in years. His role will be mainly in the passing game, and maybe in a few third down situations here and there.

Montgomery is a solid back in every aspect of the game. He can run well, he can catch well, and he can even return the ball well on special teams. If Montgomery wants to get serious reps in New York, he’ll make his money through special teams.

Bell will likely take on a gigantic role in the Jets’ offense, leaving little room for anyone to get legitimate reps behind him in a secondary role. Montgomery will be a key piece to the Jets offense, but he probably won’t see the field at a serious rate. He is a strong candidate to be the teams kick/punt returner, and that’ll likely be his calling in the green and white.

The Backups

The rest of the Jets’ running back room consists of Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon, Deangelo Henderson Sr., Jalin Moore and Valentine Holmes. The crowded room will certainly be trimmed down before the season begins, but for now, that’s how it stands.

Elijah McGuire is nearly a lock to be the Jets’ third string running back. He’s shown flashes when given opportunities in his first two years and should only get better. He can even give Ty Montgomery a run for his money if he plays well enough.

Former Jets running back coach Stump Mitchell had extreme praise for McGuire, saying he shares the same traits as LaDanian Tomlinson. It would obviously be a reach to say McGuire’s talent is anywhere near Tomlinson’s, but you don’t just throw around comparisons like that for no reason, right?

As for the rest of the Jets’ running backs, the depth chart will probably stand like this: Cannon, Henderson, and Moore/Holmes. Trenton Cannon is a solid special teams player who will likely maintain a roster spot to carry out his role for Brant Boyer’s special teams unit.

As for the other three backs, they’re all likely headed for the practice squad. Henderson saw a little bit of playing time last year, but will likely see little, if any, playing time for the Jets this year. He’s a solid backup who can possibly turn into a potential target if the Jets choose to waive and/or put him on the practice squad.

Jalin Moore put up monster numbers at Appalachian State before getting injured in his senior season. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry in his career and put up 33 touchdowns in his four years at App. State. The Jets likely view him as a potential developmental player they can stash on the practice squad for a year or two to see if he has upside.

Holmes is a former overseas rugby player who can be an 11th practice squad player if the Jets choose to keep him around. He’s also listed as a wide receiver and a kick returner on the Jets’ official roster. He’s likely a lock for the practice squad considering the Jets can create an 11th slot for him.