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NY Jets Friday Spotlight: Chris Ivory

Sometimes the Bears maul you, and sometimes you maul the Bears. Can Ivory be the mauler on Monday Night?

Christian Petersen

Welcome back to the Friday Spotlight.  Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week.  Today's player in the spotlight is Chris Ivory.

Ivory, a 6' 0", 222 pound, 26 year old running back, was originally signed in 2010 as an undrafted free agent by the New Orleans Saints.  After a few promising but injury plagued years with the Saints, the Jets acquired Ivory in 2013 in exchange for a 4th round draft pick.   Ivory was installed as the lead back in a backfield tandem with Bilal Powell, and he responded with a career high 833 yards rushing.  Ivory also managed to stay healthy enough to play in a career high 15 games in 2013.

Ivory not only led the Jets in rushing in 2013, he also won the hearts of Jets fans with his bruising, take-no-prisoners style of running.  Ivory is one of the NFL's premier backs in terms of yards after contact, and he also is the owner of a sterling 5.0 career yards per carry average.  He has enough speed and wiggle to make some people miss, but that's not what Ivory is all about.  Ivory is about being the one doling out punishment.  He is a fearsome back who seemingly not only doesn't wish to avoid contact, but actually seems to revel in it.  This style is fun to watch and easy to root for, but it also may be the one thing holding Ivory back from becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL, at least as far as running the ball is concerned (pass catching is another matter entirely).  Ivory has never been able to stay healthy in the NFL, largely due to his bruising running style. If he ever was installed as a bell cow back and managed to stay healthy all year one could picture him having a Marshawn Lynch type career.  Alas, that will likely never be.  By now Ivory has an established role as a dangerous but brittle back who needs to have his carries limited largely to protect him from himself.

As a pass catcher, Ivory, well, isn't.   Receivers with poor hands are often described as having stone hands because their hands are the opposite of the soft, pliable, sticky hands a great receiver is described as having.  What's harder and more unyielding than stone?  Diamond?  Yeah, Ivory has diamond hands.  There really is no reason to ever direct a pass in his direction; if you want Ivory to make a play, hand him the ball.

Here are Ivory's  statistics for the first four plus years of his career.  For an undrafted free agent Ivory has done extremely well for himself.



Rushing Attempts

Rushing Yards




Receiving Yards










































Now in his second year with the Jets, Ivory figures to be a major factor in the Jets' bid to defeat the Chicago Bears on Monday Night.  The Bears have a dynamic and diverse passing attack with a multitude of weapons that present the Jets defense with all sorts of problems.  With a Jets QB who is still somewhat on NFL training wheels and a Bears pass defense that has not given up a lot of big passing days recently, the way to attack and defeat this Bears team is likely not in a shootout.  Rather, the Jets probably need to control the ball and the clock with the ground game and try to keep the Bears' offense off the field as much as possible.  Fortunately for the Jets, this has not proven to be a particularly difficult task against the Bears.  The Bears rushing defense has given up more yards in 2014 than all but 5 other NFL teams, and last year the Bears rushing defense gave up more yards than every other NFL team.  They've had trouble with big backs and with scatbacks and everything in between.  If the Jets can't successfully attack this Bears defense on the ground they will likely have little chance to win this game.  This is a game where the Jets must aim for 200+ yards running, pounding the rock again and again and again.  Although Chris Johnson could also have a big game here, I think the best use of the Jets' backs on Monday Night may be to let Ivory carry the load.  Give it to the big bruiser and let him continuously move the chains.  While a lightning strike by Johnson is certainly not unwelcome, perhaps the best scenario for the Jets is just pound it and pound it and pound it, 4, 5, 6 yards at time, and keep it a low scoring affair.    Play keep away from the Bears offense and just run it down the Bears' throats.  If Ivory comes to play on Monday Night, he could be poised for a career day in the national spotlight.

Monday Night's matchup provides the opportunity for Rex Ryan's preferred ground and pound philosophy to win the day.  Chris Ivory is in the right place at the right time to win the game for the Jets and thrust the national spotlight on himself.  If Ivory gets on a roll on Monday Night Football the Jets may very well soar to a 2-1 record.  If however Ivory and his running mates are shut down or limited to a pedestrian day at the office, then the Bears may prove just too potent on offense for the Jets passing attack, particular with a hobbled or sidelined Eric Decker, to overcome.

This is Ivory's shot to prove he deserves to be the lead back in the Jets' backfield rotation.  This is Ivory's chance to show the nation that, when healthy, he is every bit the star runner more heralded guys like Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris are.  The Bear's run defense is less than stellar.   The Jets running game is first in the NFL in yardage.  The Bears' passing attack is so multifaceted and potent the Jets need to keep it off the field as much as possible.  This game is set up for Ivory to assert his will and take it over.    For better or for worse, Ivory should prove to be a pivotal player in this game.   This is Ivory's time in the spotlight.  Let's hope he shines under the lights come Monday Night.