Despite having the 6th best rush offense in 2013, the New York Jets still sough to improve at the running back this offseason. By acquiring Chris Johnson in free agency and Daryl Richardson off waivers, John Idzik and the Jets did exactly that.
Aside from CJ2K and Richardson, the Jets have four other returning running backs. These returning players are Chris Ivory (833 yards in 2013), Bilal Powell (697 yards), Mike Goodson (61 yards) and Alex Green (35 yards).
Similar to the wide receiver position, the halfbacks for the Jets are all similarly decent and mediocre, which makes determining the depth chart even more challenging than it should be. However, with six running backs on the roster, competition for roster spots will be intense as the season draws nearer. Here are EWB’s predictions for the running back depth chart in 2014:
Running Back #1: Chris Johnson
Despite Chris Ivory’s breakout season in 2013, it is hard not to like the dynamic Chris Johnson brings to this offense. His speed and experience will serve to be extremely beneficial to the Jets and their other running backs. Johnson has ran for 7,965 yards in his six-year career, and he has never accumulated less than 1,000 rushing yards in one season. Also, Johnson’s threat as a receiver will also help Geno Smith in pressure situations, as Johnson has proven he can turn 2-yard catches into touchdowns. After signing a contract that will give him $4.5 million this season, its hard to imagine Johnson serving as a second-string.
Running Back #2: Chris Ivory
Ivory has already stated he is fine with giving up carries to Chris Johnson, and it seems that he may also forfeit his starting job to the speedster. However, Chris Ivory’s role next year should be seen more as a supplement to Chris Johnson, not a backup.
With Chris and Chris together, the Jets have the perfect combination of speed and power that destroy opposing defenses. Also, in short yardage and goal line situations Ivory will still remain the go-to-guy in those cases (unless they go with Sheldon Richardson). Ivory has also proven he can succeed in the NFL, which gives him a leg up on the other Jets’ running backs.
Running Back #3: Bilal Powell
An integral member of the Jets’ rushing attack last season, Powell will be rewarded by not falling too far down on the Jets depth chart. For the past two seasons Powell has been the Jets’ 2nd leading rusher, and although he lacks explosiveness and elitism, Bilal is still a consistent workhorse in the backfield.
However, earning the #3 role will not be easy for the incumbent running back. Bilal Powell will have to compete with newly acquired Daryl Richardson, Alex Green, and a now fully healthy Mike Goodson. Powell will have to yet again prove himself in the pre-season, although his previous successes should benefit him when Rex Ryan decides on the depth chart.
Running Back #4: Daryl Richardson
After acquiring Richardson off waivers from the Rams, its hard to imagine him not making the roster. In his brief career (just 24 games), Daryl Richardson has carried the ball 167 times for 690 yards, amounting to an average 4.1 yards per carry. In his rookie campaign, Richardson showed flashes of greatness while playing behind Steven Jackson, and his youth and potential should be enough to ensure him a roster spot.
Running Backs who will be cut: Mike Goodson, Alex Green
Last season, Goodson faced all kind of problems, and its hard to imagine Rex Ryan and the Jets are willing to go through that again. From marijuana suspensions to illegal gun charges to MCL and ACL injuries, Goodson was a train wreck for the Jets last year, and despite his capability his injury and off the field issues should encourage the Jets to choose other running backs over him.
Alex Green was also irrelevant for the Jets last season, as he accumulated a mere 35 yards on 11 carries. Green has already been the cause of media attention after tweeting that he was “moving on,” although apparently he was talking about a personal matter and not his career with the Jets. However, it already appears the Jets are moving on from him after giving his jersey #25 to 1st round pick Calvin Pryor.
Although both Goodson and Green are capable of being on an NFL roster, the Jets currently have too many cooks in the kitchen at the running back position. Based off recent history for all the running backs currently on the roster, it seems that these two will be the first to go.