For several years, the New York Jets have overlooked running back Bilal Powell. Fans have been screaming for Powell to become the starter, or at the very least see an increased role in the offense. In spite of Powell’s success during his time with the Jets, he has often been overlooked in favor of Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, and others. As Forte sat out on Sunday due to a toe injury, Powell got his opportunity and exploded as the starter.
On 21 carries, Powell racked up 163 yards which included a 75-yard touchdown run. Rookie Eli McGuire was the perfect compliment, and continues to look like great value as a sixth-round draft pick. McGuire totaled 93 yards on just 10 carries, combining with Powell to rush for 256 yards on the ground, and over 300 total yards.
So what does this mean going forward for the now seventh best rushing offense in football?
Watching Powell and McGuire brought back memories of Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan. While different style of runners, Martin and Jordan formed a dominant 1-2 punch that was capable of wearing down opposing defenses as the game wore on. As Powell racks up yards after contact and continues to produce like a number one back, McGuire’s breakaway speed will be even more dangerous against tired defenses.
Right now the offensive line is building chemistry with each game and creating huge holes for the backs as well. Combine that dominant OL play with the explosiveness of Powell and McGuire, and it becomes clear that when/if Forte returns, it must be in a reduced role. While Forte can still be productive, neither of those touchdowns against the Jaguars happen with him in the game.
Another key factor in the Jets ground and pound is the production from their tight ends and fullback. Many were puzzled after the team released both of their fullbacks before the season without bringing in another body. Sure enough, they had a plan in defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas, who had played some fullback in college. He has quickly become a big part of the Jets run game, as have tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Eric Tomlinson.
Last week Powell showed why he should remain the starter and McGuire showed that he needs his share of touches as well. Both offer the type of versatility and speed this offense has been lacking for quite some time. With the defense playing at a high level, it will be interesting to see if the Jets can maintain this level of success on the ground in the coming weeks to turn this two game winning streak into something more.