Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What do you think of the Jets' stable of running backs?
EA: The Jets are going to share the load in the backfield and they have some interesting options. I think that depth and versatility could really work to their advantage as the NFL moves to a 17-game schedule in the regular season. Tevin Coleman knows this system better than anybody and he has declared himself 100% after battling knee and shoulder ailments last season in San Francisco. While the speedy Coleman is 6-1, 210 pounds, second-year back La'Mical Perine is listed as 5-11, 216 pounds and is the biggest option in the stable. The Jets like his ability to get downhill and Perine is a guy who averaged 5.4 yards a carry at Florida and had 40 receptions his final campaign with the Gators. Fourth-round pick Michael Carter is a 4.5-guy, but he put up elite numbers in the short shuttle (3.98) and three-cone drill (6.87). Carter makes people miss and then excels in space as evidenced by his nation-leading 18 rushes of 20+ yards in 2020 and he's comfortable catching it out of the backfield. Ty Johnson, a sub 4.4- back, is explosive and averaged an excellent 4.7 yards a carry with the Green & White in 2020. Josh Adams, a long-strider, averaged 5.4 yards a pop last season and this outside-zone system is ideal for him. Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur want to attack in waves and the Jets will be prepared to do just that.
EG: The stable has some interesting horses who all offer a different skillset as both Head Coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur noted. Saleh said Tevin Coleman is "pure gas" and he's the veteran of the bunch with the most familiarity of the system. He's probably the safest bet right on who would line up in the backfield on the offense's first play in Carolina. I think most of the rest of the guys on the roster like La'Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, Josh Adams and rookie Michael Carter have all flashed. Perine was impressive in training camp last year before a pair of ankle injuries slowed him down in 2020. Johnson and Adams impressed down the stretch with more opportunity and Carter, who was selected in the fourth round of the draft, has flashed his stop-start ability and decision making in OTAs. It's a crowded backfield, but with a committee approach, I think they all have a chance to be productive. For me, it comes down to system fit in the outside zone and the hot hand, which will be a case-by-case basis.
See the Top Photos from Practices 7, 8 and 9 During OTAs
RL: It's got a lot of potential to be a successful RB-by-committee group. Last season Ty Johnson (4.70) and Josh Adams (5.41), in limited carries, had outstanding per-carry numbers — they were the first set of Jets backs since 1999 (Richie Anderson, Bernie Parmalee) to average at least a carry a game and 4.70 yards/carry. Rookie La'Mical Perine was impactful in short-yardage situations — his 28.1% rate of first downs/rush was the best by a Jets back since Bilal Powell in '16 and, before that, LaMont Jordan in '04. Tevin Coleman has a good 4.2 yards/carry career average and is one of only three NFL backs with 100 catches and a 10.0+ yads/catch average in the new millennium. And Michael Carter showed his versatility at UNC last year with 8.0 yards/carry and 10.7 per catch. What will this add up to for the 2021 Jets? Can't tell yet, but as Robert Saleh said of all the RBs in the room, "Each back has a unique trait and being able to find a role for them is going to be what's fun throughout this process." I concur with the HC.