As the New York Jets head into the new league year it is time to start analyzing the roster in order to identify team needs. In this edition we will review the running back position which was once considered the foundation of the Jets “ground and pound” style of offense.
Shonn Greene (1,063 rushing yards, 8 tds): Greene had a decent 2012 campaign as he put up over 1,000 yards for the second year in a row. Shonn grinds out the tough yards but lacks the explosiveness to take it to the house once he gets passed the line of scrimmage.
2013 outlook: Shonn Greene is a free agent and I do not believe that the Jets will re-sign him. As Gang Green transitions to the west coast offense I think that the team will look for an explosive back that has consistent hands out of the backfield.
Bilal Powell ( 437 rushing yards, 4tds) : Powell showed some flashes in 2012 as he started to take reps away from Greene as the season played out. Bilal displayed the ability to get the tough yards and the elusiveness to make some big plays.
2013 outlook: I think that Powell can adequately replace Shonn Greene as he will be effective in short yardage situations. At the same time I do not believe that Powell should be the featured back, but that he should be paired up with a more explosive playmaker to form a 1-2 punch.
Joe McKnight (179 rushing yards): 2012 was another mind boggling season for McKnight as he played sporadically throughout the season. Joe McKnight has the ability to be a very good running back but for whatever reason (injuries, mental lapses, coaching decisions) he never puts it altogether.
2013 outlook: I believe that McKnight can be very effective in the west coast offense. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.
Free agent options: Ahmad Bradshaw, Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall, Cedric Benson, Felix Jones, Danny Woodhead, Peyton Hillis
Outlook: While there are some very impressive free agent running backs available I honestly believe that the Jets will look to the draft to address the position. The team has limited salary cap space and cannot afford to spend top dollar on a running back when there are so many other pressing needs like linebacker, safety, tight end, and offensive line to address.