Mark Ingram Could Be the Answer to the New York Jets' Backfield Debacle
The New York Jets came away with a clutch win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday by a score of 27-20. Unfortunately, the win was bittersweet for running back Chris Ivory. During the game, Ivory re-injured his hamstring and is expected to miss a substantial amount of time, per Rich Cimini of ESPN New York.
Chris Ivory hamstring: Same one as camp, but injury in different spot. Given slow recovery the 1st time, team not expecting quick rebound.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) September 23, 2013
This is the second hit that has been delivered to the Jets backfield in 2013.
Over the offseason, newly acquired running back Mike Goodson—formerly of the Oakland Raiders—was arrested for allegedly possessing a semi-automatic handgun and marijuana. He was consequently given a four-game suspension by the NFL—which he is currently serving.
Jets owner Woody Johnson explained that the organization "was willing to give Goodson a fair shake," in Cimini's words; however, with his history of legal issues, he remains an unreliable option.
That leaves New York with one option at running back—Bilal Powell.
A shifty runner at 5'10" and 204 pounds, Powell stepped in for Ivory and delivered a stellar game on the ground against the Bills. He rushed 27 times for a total of 149 yards, which was good enough for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.
Despite his career day, he may not be the best option for the Jets going forward—at least not as a featured back. During his first two games in 2013, Powell only managed to average 2.4 and 3.7 yards per carry, respectively. His lack of ability to dig into the trenches and deliver chain-moving runs could be a concern. Simply put, Powell would be best served as a change-of-pace back.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports recently reported that he expects Ingram to seek a trade this season. The move certainly makes sense for Ingram.
Mark Ingram expected to seek a trade from Saints. And expect more deals involving recent high picks: http://t.co/zMptXTk9kX— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 22, 2013
Of course, during an interview with NOLA.com, head coach Sean Payton said that the trade rumors regarding Ingram were "completely false" and had "zero credibility." However, this could only be coach speak—even if Payton were sure that Ingram indeed requested a trade, that is simply not something he would bring up to the media.
That allows us to speculate.
Known as a power back, Ingram flourishes when he is able to wear down defenses due to his large workload. That simply has not happened in New Orleans, as Ingram is constantly splitting carries with both Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.
Ingram would not have to worry about that type of committee approach in New York.
At this point, his only competition for touches out of the backfield would be Powell. Ingram would be able to receive the bulk of the workload—especially on first and second down—with Powell spelling him when necessary and acting as a third-down back.
The addition of Ingram would benefit the Jets in more than one way.
Goodson and his legal issues would become expendable—after all, if he ends up being convicted of unlawful possession of a handgun, he would serve a mandatory minimum sentence of three years.
Ivory would be given an appropriate amount of time to heal. If that means placing him on the reserve/injured list for the remainder of the season, the Jets will have the freedom to make that decision.
Powell would be used within his limitations. His rushing performance against the Bills should not be viewed as a sign of things to come. Once opposing defensive coordinators know that he will be entering the game as the starting running back, they will be able to game-plan against him, thus keeping him from another monster performance.
Ingram would also be a huge help to rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The Jets have relied heavily on Smith and the passing game this season, as the running game has been very inconsistent. Deducting the rushing attempts of Smith, Jets running backs have collectively averaged a mere 3.6 yards per carry and have only accounted for one score through three games in 2013.
Capable of delivering bruising runs, Ingram could be the chain-mover that is severely lacking in the Jets backfield.
Last season, when Ingram was given at least 12 carries in a single game, he showed that he can be very capable as a lead back.
With the likely scenario that Darrelle Revis will still be part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third day of the 2014 league year, the Jets can expect an additional third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Having the additional ammunition in the arsenal could prompt the Jets to pull the trigger on this one and immediately help their team continue to compete in the AFC East.
A move like this is certainly a gamble for head coach Rex Ryan. After two lackluster seasons in New York, he may find himself on the hot seat. This type of bold acquisition could not only revive and balance the Jets offense, but salvage his job as well.
This move makes sense for both the Jets and Ingram—both sides get what they need to be productive. After all, the Jets are in a battle for the AFC East, and Ingram could be the answer to keep them in contention.
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