Head Coach Rex Ryan says that his current crop of running backs reminds him of the unit the New York Jets had in 2009, when the team rushed for 2,756 yards, 22 touchdowns, and had the top ground attack in the NFL. That was five years ago, and for Ryan, over 120 lbs ago, but I don’t believe this nostalgic optimism is misplaced. With the addition of former All-Pro Chris Johnson to an already strong stable of backs, the Jets’ rushing attack could be deadly in 2014.
The Jets did more than just upgrade their offensive personnel by adding a top-flight talent like Johnson; they brought in CJ2K with their existing personnel in mind. Johnson should complement current starter Chris Ivory extraordinarily well, as this “Two Dreaded Monster” rushing attack is likely to be among the best 1-2 punches in the league in 2014. With Ivory’s hard-running, physical style of play and penchant for gaining yards after contact, and Johnson’s game-breaking, cheetah-like speed, the New York Jets will have a formula that will be sure to cause problems for opposing defenses.
“The cheetah comparisons are not just hyperbole. Chris Johnson really did race a cheetah.”
It will also be interesting to see what offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweig has planned next year having Michael Vick and Johnson on the roster. Mornhinweig will have the fastest running back and the fastest quarterback in the league at his disposal, and I think it’s fair to expect him to experiment with the read-option in 2014.
The read-option certainly has its critics, with many citing the speed and discipline of athletes at the professional level that has prevented the college-style offense from sustaining any long-term success in the NFL. Teams such as the 49ers, Redskins, and Panthers have proven, however, that there is room for the read-option as a change of pace within a well-balanced offense and with the right personnel.
Former New York Jet Darrelle Revis identified himself as a read-option skeptic in 2011 when the New York Daily News asked him about the Denver Broncos offense, then led by Tim Tebow. Revis did moderate his skepticism by stating a team could have success running the option with the right players, making this eerie observation:
“Yeah, if you have Michael Vick and Chris Johnson at running back… Yeah, it [read-option] can work. Those are probably the two fastest guys that can get out on the edge.”
The Jets will be able to put this hypothesis to the test next season, utilizing an offensive backfield with speed the likes of which the league has never seen before. Throw in the long-haired duo Ivory and Johnson and the thunder-and-lightning dynamic they bring to the offensive side of the ball, and Gang Green’s rushing attack projects to be among the league’s best. Finally, the New York Jets’ offense will be “dreadful” for an entirely different reason.
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