Bilal Powell has been a breakout player at running back for the New York Jets this season, and he has been by far the team’s leading rusher through seven games. However, an interesting development occurred during Sunday’s win over the New England Patriots, as Chris Ivory received 34 carries, while Powell only had 3.
Powell did pick up a shoulder injury in the game, but he returned to the field and it appeared to be a non-factor. Instead, the Jets simply chose to make Ivory their workhorse, which is of course the reason they traded for him this offseason. The Jets gave up a fourth round pick to get Ivory, and they believed that he could be a true No. 1 running back for them. Injuries to Ivory and Powell’s emergence have altered that plan, but now it appears that Ivory is in for a much larger workload.
The Jets are at their best when they have a strong running game, and there is likely going to be plenty of work for both Powell and Ivory. However, the split of the carries will be very interesting this week, as the Jets play at the Cincinnati Bengals and want to control the ball and the clock and take the crowd out of the game.
Neither player is particularly explosive, but Powell is faster and a better receiver, so at the very least he will be the third down back. However, if Sunday’s game is any indication, Ivory will be the starter and could receive 20 or more carries. The problem with Ivory is his very low 3.2 YPC, but he is a bruising runner who wears defenses down, as he did against the Patriots.
Ivory’s sudden ascent to the lead back is certainly a surprise, but it is a trend that is likely to continue. The Jets want to run the ball, and they showed Sunday they have no concerns about Ivory carrying the load for the offense.