Our series grading each position group on the Jets in 2015 goes on. Today we address the running backs. As a refresher, here is the John B Grading System.
A - An enormous success by any definition
B - Happy with the production
C - Not terribly thrilled; not terribly upset
D - A disappointment
F - A total catastrophe
2015 in review
There was a lot of inconsistency for the Jets at running back in 2015 with two brilliant stretches. The first brilliant stretch was the first four games Chris Ivory played. Ivory did sit out the third game of the season against the Eagles while injured. In the first four games he played, Ivory ran for 460 yards. That ended up being over 40% of his season total. He averaged 5.5 yards per run during that span. Unfortunately, Ivory's physical running style took a toll, and he wore down. He seemed frequently banged up as a result of the punishment he both gives out and takes. His running was less effective as the season went on.
The second brilliant stretch was courtesy of Bilal Powell for six games near the end of the season after he recovered from an ankle injury. Powell became a big part of the passing game, recording at least five receptions in five of these six games. He scored two receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Unfortunately Powell suffered another ankle injury that kept him out of the season finale against Buffalo, an injury that surely hurt the Jets' chances.
The other two guys in the backfield, Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy were pretty big disappointments, both averaging under 3 yards per rush. Tommy Bohanon was inconsistent as the fullback.
Looking to 2016
Ivory and Powell are both free agents. Of the two, I think Powell will be the easier to re-sign. Ivory has gained attention across the league. He just had his first 1,000 yard season. Keeping Ivory would be nice, but can a team depend on him to stay healthy for an entire season and carry the load given the punishment he takes? He really cooled off as the season progressed. The mileage on his odometer also might not look great, but one carry out of Ivory exerts more than one carry for your typical back. Powell's nice stretch might mean that he has found a niche in the offense, but it was only a short stretch. He still has not put up eye-popping numbers during his career, making him easier to retain.
The position was inconsistent all year. With that said, Ivory's start was good enough to carry him to fifth in the league in rushing yards this year, and Powell's finish put him third on the team in major receiving categories.