A New York Jets win against rival New England may come on the shoulders of a rookie running back.
Elijah McGuire was a sixth round pick of the New York Jets in the most recent draft. Out of Louisiana-Lafayette, McGuire wasn’t a guy that turned a lot of heads on draft day. He impressed during the preseason and earned a spot on the team out of training camp. The Jets were a team preparing to feature the running game, so a stable of three solid running backs made a lot of sense. Entering the season with Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire was quite the look for the rebuilding Jets.
After Forte went down with injury, McGuire saw an increased workload as the number two man behind Powell. Against the Jaguars he excelled. McGuire ran the ball 10 times for 93 yards including a 69 yard touchdown run when he looked like he was shot out of a canon. He struggled against a solid Browns run defense, putting up only 20 yards on 11 carries. The whole running game struggled that day, and that doesn’t take away from the obvious ability that McGuire has. In the early going he has been quite the find by Mike Maccagnan.
Now we begin Patriots week. It’s that twice per year event where the Jets prepare to take on their hated rivals from New England. Two teams that duked it out in the old AFL have had their rivalry renewed for years, from Bill Parcells, through Mangini, the butt fumble and everything in between. Teams from New England and New York seem to have a natural rivalry, right Yankees fans? These two teams are no different.
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These two teams hate each other. It’s always worth a little bit more to each when they win, despite what they say in public. OK, Rex Ryan used to make it clear what it meant to him, we are talking about everyone else when we say despite what they say.
Forte is banged up with turf toe and his availability for Sunday is uncertain. Now, we also have Powell hurt. He left the game against the Browns and coach Bowles has yet to determine his availability for Sunday either.
If these two guys can’t go, the load will be transferred to one Elijah McGuire. He will be the primary ball carrier against the Patriots in that scenario.
Now, that is some way to enter the rivalry for the first time, huh?
Now, McGuire is no stranger to the big stage, playing in three bowl games during his college days. His best performance came in 2014 against Nevada when he carried the ball 16 times for 99 yards and added five receptions for 54 yards. He added 99 rushing yards on 17 carries in his 2016 bowl appearance against Southern Miss.
This is a different level of competition. He didn’t have Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia gameplanning to stop him in those games. It will be a different road on Sunday. If McGuire gets to carry the load, we will get some real insight into how good he really is, and can be.