Even on the darkest of nights, one can find a radiant star. With a strong finishing kick, Jets RB Bilal Powell rushed for a career-high 722 yards and his 58 receptions was the sixth-most by a RB in team history.
"I knew he was tough and a good complementary back," said head coach Todd Bowles. "He showed me that he could be the guy."
Through the Jets' first 12 games, Powell had 86 touches from scrimmage while sharing the backfield with veteran Matt Forte. He was productive when called upon, averaging 6.3 yards on his 49 carries and 6.7 yards on his 37 receptions. But with Forté slowed by a knee injury in December, Powell became the team's No.1 option out of the backfield.
Over the final four games, the 5"10, 204-pound Powell put the battered and bruised Jets on his back and he charged ahead. He averaged 5.0 yards on his 82 carries and 6.7 yards on his 21 receptions. Powell eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground in wins over San Francisco (145) and Buffalo (122), doing his damage behind a shuffled offensive line that lost four starters during the regular season.
"He showed me a lot running the ball from a toughness standpoint and making the team and the offense tougher," Bowles said. "Especially running with four offensive linemen hurt, he showed his toughness, his quickness and his resiliency, which showed me a lot about him."
Powell, who set a personnel best with 1,100 yards from scrimmage, and Forté (1,076) became the only pair of RBs this season to each record 1,000 scrimmage yards. The 28-year-old Powell reaped the benefits from working on his explosiveness and adding hills to his routine in the offseason.
"This time I worked on a lot of change of direction stuff, in and out of cuts and I did a lot of hills," he said back in August. "I did a bunch of band resistant workouts, I tried to stay away from the weights and do more lean stuff to help build muscle endurance."
That endurance was seen in a dazzling December display from the soft-spoken young man from Lakeland, FL. One of the most versatile backs in the league considering his blocking prowess, Powell is a difference maker who will remain ready when his number is called.