The Jets don’t employ a clearcut lead dog in the backfield, but that doesn’t have to be a detriment to the offensive unit.
As I’ve mentioned before — this isn’t the eras of Curtis Martin or Freeman McNeil.
Le’Veon Bell? Yeah, that ship sailed (or sunk if we’re being totally honest).
This Jets backfield is different, in a sense there’s no clearcut lead dog or workhorse who will earn the majority of the reps. Numerous individuals reside in the running back room, each of whom could find his own role within coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense.
Sure, it’s exciting to employ a Derrick Henry or a Christian McCaffrey or a Dalvin Cook; someone who will assume the bulk of the load and be a top-tier weapon who you can gameplan around.
But a running back committee, which is set to exist in Florham Park, has its benefits as well.
“I was talking to [Mike] LaFleur about our backfield — if you look at the roster [as an outsider], you say ‘I don’t know any of these guys.’ But when we look at it and we watch the tape, I think we’ve got a pretty dynamic group that complements each other really well,” head coach Robert Saleh told the media prior to Thursday’s joint practice in Green Bay.
“You’ve got the explosiveness of [Tevin] Coleman, you’ve got the shiftiness of Michael Carter, you’ve got the powerful speed from Ty Johnson, you’ve got that power back ability with [La’Mical] Perine. They’re all unique in their own way. And even throw Josh Adams in there — he’s got tremendous speed on the edge. So it’s a really dynamic group and it’s a group that we’re excited to continue to work with to see if we can find that niche.”
Coleman provides that veteran presence and can be a decent pass-catching back while Carter, a rookie fourth-round draft pick, employs noticeable speed and should be an option in the return game.
Many are looking to see how Perine fares in year two though.
At 5-foot-11, 216 pounds, Perine sports a noteworthy frame and can be utilized as a short-yardage back given his power.
Saleh, however, believes there’s more to the 2020 fourth-rounder.
“[Perine] is the biggest of the backs. He’s got the ability to violently cut and get downhill also but he’s starting to take two and trying to create that identity that we all think he can be in terms of just being that power back, that bruiser,” Saleh said. “But he had one [Wednesday] where he sprung it outside, cut the corner, and basically walked into the end zone — it was in the red zone period.
“He’s got the ability to go inside and out. As soon as he establishes himself with that identity that we all think he has, I think it will open up a lot of different avenues for him.”
Even during an era in which the position is decreasing in value, New York’s running back committee will possess a highly significant task on its hands — to take pressure off rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.
The Jets cannot provide their first-year signal-caller with an enormous amount of pressure; the run game (and its multiple participants) must make it easier for Zach.