The New York Jets looked in the mirror this offseason and decided it was time to let go of some dead weight. The QB position is still under heavy scrutiny but the running game just received a shot in the arm with the addition of ex Ram, Zac Stacy and ex Patriot Steven Ridley. The Jets backfield has always been crowded but this year they have players that can actually perform at an NFL level. Last season the load was distributed upon the shoulders of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson as the two backs managed to run for 821 and 663 yards respectively but that wasn’t enough for what the team needed for 2015 so moves had to be made. Enter Ridley and Stacy.
The Jets are set to run their way to the AFC East Division crown and if you look closely enough 2015 could be the year we witness one of the finest backfields in the history of the NFL. Once you stop laughing, hear me out. Last season the Jets were ranked 3rd in the league with 143 yards per game and that was with Ivory and Johnson leading the way. Ivory took a hand-off 198 times, Johnson took it 155 then you add in Powell, Geno and a few other and the Jets ran the ball a total of 507 times. If Geno can stay in the pocket this season and divide those plays between Stacy, Ridley and Ivory the Jets should rush for 2,500+ yards. Yes I am well aware this is a passing league and the last two seasons the Jets have made upgrades in the passing game but those same pricey receivers are one of the reasons that goal can be reached.
Last season defenses could stack the line as the had little to no respect for the arm of Smith or Vick but the offensive line still made enough holes for the Jets to manage over 2000 yards on the ground but now you throw in big body Brandon Marshall on the opposite side of Eric Decker and no defense is going to have a single DB try to cover Marshall man-to-man, only two players are capable of doing that and one of them just resigned with the Jets. If the QB can just be a tad better with his accuracy than they were was last year we are looking at an high-powered offense in 2015.
Ridley has the ability to be a 1,000 yard rusher as he did it once in 2012 with the Patriots with 290 attempts. He has a career 4.3 yards per rush, but his man contribution may be his big game experience. He knows what it’s like to go into an opposing teams stadium in January and hush a crowd with a big 3rd down run, this is what the Jets needed and they went and got the job done. Stacy is the bruiser, he may be smaller than Ridley but his style is more of dominating. The Jets have tried to build the running game with speed but now they have a back who is a change of pace that can also carry the ball 200+ times in a season as he did in 2013. He is another 4 yard per carry player and can catch a few passes out of the backfield as he was targeted 58 times in his career.
The Jets have a legit shot, the AFC East is not that high on stopping the run, except for one team and well that would be the Jets. But the Patriots, Bill and Dolphins all surrender on average 106 yards per game. If the QB can move the chains and get some points on the board the ground game will take care of the rest. Their schedule cements my point. Take a look at some of their opponents defensive rushing stats. Browns (142 yards), Colts (113), Dolphins (121), Raiders (119), Jaguars (127), Giants (135) and Titans (137). You don’t have to be a fan of the Jets to look at this schedule and see the possibilities are endless for the Jets ground game to take flight this season.
Welcome to history Stacy, Ivory and Ridley.