Running back is probably one of the few spots that performed well last season for the Jets. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte combined for 1,535 yards on the ground – 96 yards less than Ezekiel Elliot. Now no one is is saying they are as dynamic as Elliot, but the duo certainly have to be respected by defenses.
It isn’t exactly a burning question who gets the nod at running back – not compared to the signal caller – but it sure seems like Bilal Powell should own the starting role. If the way he finished the season is any indication, he should top the depth chart.
It is no secret that the Jets did not utilize Powell enough last season – certainly not after the way he finished the 2015 season. Powell really found a role in the passing game when Chan Gailey started lining him up in the slot. The touchdown against the Giants comes to mind.
Yet, the Jets went heavy with Matt Forte to start last season. It wasn’t a bad move to use Forte as the starting back, he performed very well through the first few weeks averaging almost 4 yards per carry. The fault was not finding a way to use both – especially considering Ryan Fitzpatrick’s implosion.
This season, it seems the team will take a different approach. Powell should earn the starting role; he is younger, was one of the top backs in the league and showed an aggression that can set a tone for an offense.
Now, Forte should have an important role at least early in the season. If John Morton utilizes him to his strengths and similar to how New Orleans features their backs in the passing game. Consider that last season, four running backs on the Saints caught 124 passes for 870 yards – 11.8 yards per catch – those aren’t simple dump offs.
Again, who starts isn’t really the burning question for the running back position. The place where Morton will earn his extra dessert is how he features both. The cupboard isn’t bare, if Morton is as creative as his reputation, the backs will take huge burden off of a young quarterback.