Being a running back for the New Orleans Saints in the past few seasons has meant sharing playing time and splitting carries with two other players as well as very limited touches as a result of the team being a predominantly passing team.
That was the situation that Chris Ivory found himself in during his first three NFL seasons, as he was one cog in the Saints running back rotation. Having been dealt to the New York Jets on a draft-day deal, he now has the chance to shine as the number-one running back for the Jets.
Ivory first made a name for himself back as a rookie in 2010 with a Week 6 performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he ran for 158 yards on fifteen carries. This performance highlighted Ivory’s ability to be able to break for long runs on any carry if given the space to be able to break a long run off.
Ivory would end his rookie season with 716 rushing yards, which would lead the team in that category, on 137 carries and five touchdowns. While those totals are a respectable one, Ivory could have had a bigger season but he found himself battling a foot injury that would see him placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start the 2011 season.
Since he started the 2011 season on the PUP list, Ivory would see his number of touches reduced as he only carried the ball 119 times during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. While injuries were a part of that, the Saints offensive philosophy and the fact the team found itself trailing in several games during the 2012 seasons also played a role in his reduced touches.
Despite that, the Jets were willing to trade for Ivory and make him their featured running back. What Ivory brings to the Jets is a player, when healthy, is capable of running for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. In addition, Ivory’s “home run” ability on each carry gives a Jets offense who lacked big play ability the past two seasons.
Additionally, for a team who is still not sure who the starting quarterback will be Week 1 of the season, having a reliable running back like Chris Ivory will do wonders in helping the eventual starting quarterback, whether it be Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith, be able to effectively play the position.
Let’s not forget how valuable Thomas Jones was for the Jets back in the 2009 season as they made a run to the AFC Championship Game. Ivory could give the Jets the necessary foundation for which to have a better offense that many expect.
While Chris Ivory has not been a featured running back due to injuries and system preferences, he has shown flashes of being a capable featured running back. With the Jets, he will get the chance and if he is able to stay healthy, don’t be surprised to see Chris Ivory establish himself and show why he is a breakout candidate for the Jets.