The New York Jets were pleased to see running back Mike Goodson make his long awaited team debut during Monday night’s 30-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Goodson was the Jets’ biggest free agent signing, but he was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, following his May arrest for marijuana possession and illegal possession of a firearm.
Goodson was and is still working his way back into game shape, and the Jets knew he would need some time to shake off the rust. He only received 4 touches, but he was able to pick up 41 yards on those plays. Goodson is by far the Jets’ fastest and most explosive running back, and he brings an entirely different style of play to their backfield as the perfect complement to the between the tackles running of Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rank 25th in the NFL in rush yards allowed per game, and the Jets will look to take advantage of that mismatch on Sunday. Powell will of course be the lead back, but look for the Jets to expand Goodson’s role in this game. He has the speed to change a game, and they will look to get him the ball in space.
The first way the Jets could do this is in the return game. The Jets are one of only three teams in the NFL averaging less than 20 yards per kick return, and Clyde Gates simply isn’t a threat in the return game. Goodson has a career average of 22 yards per game, which is not overly impressive, but is still an upgrade for the Jets.
More importantly, Goodson should play a much bigger role in the offense. The Jets showed some of the ways they plan to use him on Monday, when they ran the Wildcat, threw him swing passes and ran stretch plays. The Jets will continue to do all of these things, and probably mix in a few other wrinkles, likely in the form of screens. Goodson should see a much higher volume of touches, and he could get as many 15 combined carries and receptions if things go well for the Jets.
The Jets’ passing game has been able to stretch the field, which will open up a ton of space underneath for Goodson to work. He provides the big play element the Jets have been missing in their backfield, and he should see a significant amount of work on Sunday.