With Marshawn Lynch down and Jamaal Charles out, is it possible that New York Jets running back Chris Ivory is the best in the NFL?
By Robby Sabo
Beast Mode is a term used too frequently in today’s NFL.
Anytime a runner (no less running back) barrels over a player or fights for extra yards, Beast Mode is the first thing that comes to mind. Of course, we all know who’s responsible for the term coming to such a grand light over the last several years: none other than Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch, whose nickname is actually Beast Mode, has marveled us with some of the more incredible runs in NFL history. How could anybody forget about his classic against the New Orleans Saints during the first week of the 2011 Playoffs?
No other player has matched his physical style and ruthless chugging on Sundays, thus the nickname Beast Mode belongs to Lynch.
There is, however, a player today’s league who’s getting awfully close.
New York Jets running back Chris Ivory is a stud. After toiling in New Orleans for three seasons to begin his career, Ivory joined the Jets in 2013. This was, perhaps, John Idzik’s only solid move as general manager for the franchise.
Ivory, 27, hasn’t yet rushed for over 1,000 during his first two seasons with the team. In 2013 he went for 833 yards and 3 TD for a 4.6 YPC; and last season he dipped to 821 yards and 6 TD for a 4.1 YPC. Incredibly, he only missed one game during that span. The issue lied in his time on the field.
Splitting carries with backs like Chris Johnson (2014) and Bilal Powell (2013) kept his carries per game very low to the basement. 2015 has brought a completely different attitude and philosophy for the sixth-year veteran out of Washington State.
Through three games Ivory has carried the ball 63 times. This number has him on pace to shatter his previous season high of 198 in 2014. He’s collected 314 yards and three scores with those carries.
His play this season has been remarkable. Not only does he fight through every tackle and tack on extra yards at every turn, he’s possessed a burst that, combined with his trucking ability (hello Madden fans), has him now thought of as tops at his position in all the NFL.
For one, Brandon Marshall doesn’t just think he’s among the best in the league, he thinks he is the best.
When he realized Ivory claimed 1,000 yards this season was his goal, Marshall responded in hilarious fashion, via Rich Cimini of ESPN New York:
“I’m like, ‘What? No, the goal is 1,500 or better,'” Marshall said Wednesday.
“He’s already the best running back in the league right now,” he said. “Just watch the tape — speed, quickness, agility, vision, endurance. He has it all.”
While many would argue with Marshall’s “best in the league” assessment, Ivory has some pretty impressive numbers to back that statement up.
He’s currently tied with St. Louis Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley for the most rushing yards per contest with 104.7. His 5-yards per carry is a career best and he’s currently 13th in the league in rushing with 313 total yards (he missed Week 3 against the Eagles).
Considering guys like Lynch and Jamaal Charles are injured, and top dogs like DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson aren’t putting up the impressive numbers we’re used to seeing, Marshall isn’t too far off.
Could it be possible? Is Chris Ivory the best running back in the NFL at this very moment?
Still though, the guy has found a home in New York and at age 27 is finally finding himself in this league. While most running backs enjoy their best years upon arrival into the league, Ivory took the “prospect route” by sitting a few seasons before busting out.
When he’s active and getting fed the ball in Chan Gailey’s offense, everything works. Ryan Fitzpatrick feels comfortable and the offensive line feeds off his tough, brutal running style. When he’s not in the lineup (Week 3 against Philly), the offense crumbles.
As long as he can stay healthy through his bruising style of play, Ivory (and the Jets) are in store for big things in 2015.
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