Bad luck has befallen the Jets running backs. Projected starter Chris Ivory is dealing with a hamstring injury. Mike Goodson, Ivory's backup, is playing hide and seek with the organization. And most recently, former 3rd round pick Joe McKnight was arrested for failing to pay two different petty fines that totaled less than $300.
Considering the quarterback situation is far from stable, these backs will be counted on to produce. Not to mention, with Ivory's injury history, his backfield mates will always need to be at the ready.
Goodson was considered to be a mini steal in free agency. He averaged over six yards a carry last season and is an underrated pass catcher out of the backfield. Goodson has only had two 20-carry games in the NFL, but in both games, he ran for 100 yards. He still hasn't reported to training camp and he's in major legal trouble. Goodson has been sued for child support involving four different children he fathered with a woman. He was also arrested on drug and weapons possession chargers earlier this offseason. Currently, both issues are hanging over Goodson's head.
McKnight could actually help this team as an outside runner, especially since Goodson is the only other back on the team with that type of skill, but he's had maturity and injury issues since Day 1. I don't expect him to make this roster for those very reasons.
There are two Jets fighting it out to be the lead blocker for these backs: Rookie Tommy Bohanon and the incumbent Lex Hillard. Hillard is a try-hard-guy who makes the most out of his limited skills. Personally I think he's used best as depth at running back and used out of the backfield in the passing game, not as a fullback. In fact, the Jets coaching staff may very well use Hillard in that type of role, similar to how he was used with the Dolphins. I'm thinking out loud here, but I believe it’s a possibility because Bohanon is clearly a superior talent to Hillard as a fullback, and the Jets running backs aren't exactly depth-infused at the moment.
If Bohanon earns the starting job, he'll add to the already improved physicality and power of the Jets front five. He's got great strength to play the fullback position. Bohanon is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield and his strong body helps him in pass protection. He totaled five touchdown catches as a senior at Wake Forest. The former Demon Deacon has the ability to deliver a block on inside or outside runs. He was John Idzik's most underrated draft pick.
With Ivory sidelined and Goodson away from the team, Bilal Powell is listed as the team's number one running back. That's not good. Powell has a very limited skill set as a running back and is best used in a rotational role only.
Hopefully Ivory can knock that hamstring issue and get back to the field because he fits this offensive line like a glove. The Jets beefed up their offensive line, and Ivory is an inside runner who gets through the hole like a bowling ball rumbling through hardwood. Ivory is one of the better inside runners in the league. His career yards per rush is over 5, but Ivory doesn't come without problems. He's only had three games in which he carried the ball 20 or more times, but Ivory has been injury-prone during his NFL career, despite the limited amount of carries. Based on the evidence, Ivory can't handle being a bell cow, getting 20 carries per game. That makes it imperative for somebody else in this backfield to step up. Goodson is the first guy that comes to mind, but nobody knows when he'll return to Gang Green, let alone if he'll get past his legal trouble.
Goodson would be lightning to Ivory's thunder. Goodson has good speed, and is an athletic back. If everything goes well, New York will have a decent 1-2 punch at running back, but the way things have gone for the Jets this offseason, that may be wishful thinking.