How is Chris Ivory's workload relative to other number one backs in the NFL? It is pretty low. Last season, Ivory had just 39% of the Jets' rushing attempts. Among the 32 team leaders in rushing yardage, that was just the 25th highest.*
As we have discussed frequently, what limits Ivory is his lack of skills as a receiver and particularly as a blocker. The ability to pass block is an unheralded skill for backs, but it is important. Many rookie backs do not get onto the field as much as their talent might dictate because of their struggles in pass protection. Ivory has not grown into a pass protector. Last season, he was a pass blocker on just 44 plays and still was responsible for 11 pressures according to Pro Football Focus, a remarkably high rate. It is difficult to have such a liability, particularly with a young quarterback whose pocket presence has been lacking.
The shame in this is what a dynamic runner Ivory is. Last week, PFF had an article studying missed tackles forced by backs. Ivory is prolific at creating his own yardage. He ranked fourth in ratio between carries and missed tackles forced, eighth in percentage of attempts with at least one missed tackle forced, and tied for fourth in total number of runs with multiple missed tackles forced.
Ivory's success as a runner might be even more impressive when you consider his limitations in the passing game. Defenses, knowing his struggles, can focus on stopping the run when Ivory is in the game, knowing the Jets are likely to hand the ball off. The Jets ran the ball 55.7% of the time when Ivory was in the game last season vs. 46% when he wasn't.
Ivory did set a career high in carries with 198. Still, this small load he carries limits his upside as a top back. Ivory is certainly a valuable part of the offense. It does seem like his lack of blocking and receiving skills carry over and prevent him from maximizing his production as a runner. Those snaps he is missing are the difference between a nice 800 yard tandem back and a 1,200 load carrying back.
*Calculated by hand; apologies for mistakes