Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jets Need To Rely On Chris Ivory

When the New York Jets signed Chris Ivory this offseason, many people didn't think too much of it. After all, he had spent the entirety of his career unable to break ahead of the New Orleans Saints' stable of running backs due to injuries nearly every year. When I heard about this signing, though, my expectations immediately shot through the roof.

I had watched Ivory explode onto the scene in 2010 with the Saints when he averaged over 5 yards per carry and rushed for over 700 yards. Over the last two seasons, he has kept that YPC right around 5, but like I said, he has had to deal with nagging injuries essentially every year. While these injuries may seem to disqualify him from being a workhorse-type running back, I tend to think differently.

Given that the Jets lost (if you want to call it that) Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight this offseason, they were in need of someone that would be able to help out a consistently medicore-at-best quarterback in Mark Sanchez who has needed a strong run game to be successful, or a rookie in Geno Smith. Given that both quarterbacks were in dire need of a capable running back, I thought we'd see Ivory featured heavily right out of the gate.
As we know, that is not the direction that the Jets decided to head in. Instead, they decided to have him split carries with Bilal Powell, who's track record (3.6 YPC) will not impress. Both of them struggled, with Powell averaging well below his career average, and Ivory getting only 15 yards on 10 carries.

The Jets won the game, but it was with no help from the ground. Geno Smith basically won the game on his own offensively (with a little help from Lavonte David), and it was clear that one of the two Jets backs would have to step up if the team wanted to compete in the AFC East this year.

Well on Thursday Night Football, they got their chance in the first divisional matchup of the year against the New England Patriots. Both of their backs improved, with Powell getting back to his underwhelming career average, and Ivory jumping up to 4.3. In this game, we saw some great burst from Ivory, but he wasn't without problems.
Like what has plagued him to this point in his career, Ivory fumbled in the 2nd quarter of the game. Regardless of that one instance, though, they need to start giving him the ball more often. By that, I mean anywhere from 20-30 carries per game.

This all goes backs to the fact that they're starting a rookie quarterback. Though he performed well in the first game, he faltered a little bit in the second. His stat line is a bit worse than he seems, as his receivers had a ton of costly drops (I'm looking at you, Clyde Gates), but it still was not his best. He threw 39 times, which is just way too many, especially given the weather conditions during the game.

Rex Ryan should be doing all he can to keep his job, and starting Ivory would be a good start. Yes, it may be taking a chance just given his injury history and fumbling, but his upside is so much higher than Bilal Powell's that it makes this decision a no-brainer.

Thanks for reading.

Follow Brian Rzeppa on Twitter, and check out his NBA work on The League News.

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