The New York Jets have found their no. 1 RB for the future in Bilal Powell.
With the absences of Jets RBs who have had injury and legal problems in their past like Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson, Powell has taken over the no. 1 spot and ran with it. He is tied for First in the AFC in rushing yards. Even with 10 less carries than Arian Foster, he has remained consistent through the first four games, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, while Foster is averaging 3.8 per carry.
Powell also is a RB who does not have fumbling issues as he had only two in 189 rushing attempts throughout his career. Powell is in his third year after being drafted by the Jets in the fourth round out of the University of Louisville. In his final year at Louisville, Powell broke out with 1405 yards and 11 TDs, making him a draft-worthy prospect.
Powell had been a backup to Jets RB Shonn Greene throughout his first two years. Greene’s most yards per game was last year when he averaged just 66.4. Powell is averaging 73 yards a game thus far in his first full NFL season. With more game experience, he can only get better.
The only hope for the Jets’ other two RBs is that they can stay healthy enough to contribute as a backup. They have yet to prove that throughout their careers. Goodson, who played for the Oakland Raiders and also the Carolina Panthers, has been injury-prone his entire career with ankle and hamstring issues. Now he just had legal and substance abuse issues which caused him to be suspended for the first four games of this year.
Chris Ivory, who the Jets traded a fourth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for this year, has an injury path that started back in college where he played for Washington State. In his final college year, he played just five games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
The Saints still liked what they saw out of Ivory and drafted him. He played three years for the Saints, but appeared in only 24 games. In 2010, despite leading the Saints in rushing, Ivory had several injuries. After the last regular season game 2010, he was put on injured reserve and did not play in the postseason. He didn’t heal quickly, and spent the first six games of the 2011 campaign on the PUP list.
Ivory came to the Jets with a hamstring injury and was unable to participate in training camp. Once Ivory healed up and was ready to play, the Jets eased him in through the first two games with 22 rushes. In his third game vs. the Buffalo Bills, he suffered another setback with the hamstring.
He predicts he will be able to play this Monday Night vs. the Atlanta Falcons as he worked with trainers and rode the stationary bike in Wednesday’s practice, but it will be the coaches who will decide if Ivory is ready to go.
The Jets have made three bad choices this offseason. Those would be the Goodson and Ivory acquisitions, plus the drafting of the injury-prone CB Dee Milner, who has been unable to play in his first four NFL games and looks to be out again this Monday Night.
The Jets must stick with Powell as their featured back and let him progress as their future running back, instead of looking for injury-prone players.