On the Roster in 2015
Chris Ivory (RB), Bilal Powell (RB), Stevan Ridley (RB), Tommy Bohanon (FB), Zac Stacy (RB/IR)
Potential Free Agents
Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley
The ground game was a key component in the Jets' 4,000-yard offense, with Chris Ivory leading the way and Bilal Powell making some dazzling second-half contributions (plus QB Ryan Fitzpatrick supplying 270 yards as the No. 3 ballcarrier). The impact of the Green & White ground game reached a peak with a season-high 221 yards vs. Washington that lifted them to No. 1 in the league, then fell off to finish at No. 10. But big rushing games were distributed throughout the year, from the season opener vs. Cleveland (154 yards) to Tennessee (183), from Miami in London (207) to New England at home in Game 16 (143).
Chris Ivory continued in his role as one of the NFL's big-bopper featured backs, all the way to completing the first 1,000-yard season of his career and reigning as the AFC's leading rusher at 1,070 yards. He erupted for 166- and 146-yard games in Games 4-5, developed as a receiver with 30 catches for 217 yards, ripped off a season-long 58-yard run in the finale at Buffalo, and finished with 8 touchdowns. His 59 total first downs are the most by a Jets RB since LaDainian Tomlinson finished 2010 with 71.
Bilal Powell, when not bothered by an early groin injury and then by a midseason ankle sprain that kept him out of five games in all, showed his impressive burst especially over the second half when he averaged more than 80 scrimmage yards in Games 10-15. Particularly impressive was his eight receptions for 91 yards — with 112 yards coming after the catch, making him one of four Jets to pass 100 YAC in a game in the last 20 years — and a touchdown in the OT win over the Giants.
"Chris and Bilal are both faster than I thought," Bowles reflected in August. "Those are two quality running backs. They work hard, they keep their mouths shut, they keep their heads down, they block, they run inside, they run outside. I'm very pleased with both of them."
Stacy came to the Jets in a draft-day trade with the Rams and made some contributions before going on IR with an ankle fracture at home vs. Buffalo Nov. 12. His best offensive work came vs. Miami in London, when he scored his only touchdown, and the next week vs. Washington, when he had 46 rushing yards and 61 YFS.
This organization gave me a second chance ... Love this team & this staff .. Will be back @nyjets — Zac Stacy (@ZSTACY_) January 3, 2016
Ridley was worked slowly into the lineup over the last eight games following his year-long rehab from a knee injury last year with New England. Appropriately, his biggest impact came against the Patriots in Game 15 (7 carries, 36 yards), and he logged a season-high 25 offensive plays in the finale at Buffalo.
Bohanon was a steady presence as the only fullback on the roster all year, playing in all 16 games and averaging 16.7 offensive plays. He had a nice turn as a backfield receiver at New England (two catches, 36 yards) but after that got only two offensive touches over the final 10 games.
Head coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan have preached the importance of a strong run game and run/pass balance in the offense. This offseason, it will be interesting how they address the ground game since Ivory, Powell and Ridley all could become unrestricted free agents. Who will the Jets be able to keep on the roster and who will they bring in to keep the offense humming along at its 116.8 rushing yards/game pace or better and at its 370.3 total yards?