Welcome to the 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, in his 2018 Jets debut, is sophomore running back Elijah McGuire.
Elijah McGuire is a 5’ 10”, 215 pound running back out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. McGuire was drafted by the New York Jets with the 188th overall selection in the 6th round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Elijah McGuire had a great career at Louisiana-Lafayette. He was the Sun Belt Conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2013 and first team all conference pick with 863 rushing yards and 8.4 yards per carry, eight rushing touchdowns, 22 receptions for 384 yards and three receiving touchdowns. McGuire was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore with 1,264 rushing yards and 7.6 yards per carry, 14 rushing touchdowns, 45 receptions for 468 yards and two receiving touchdowns. His junior year his numbers were not quite as gaudy and he received honorable mention All Sun Belt honors. In his senior season, playing hurt much of the season, McGuire set a career high with 232 carries, good for 1168 yards and seven rushing touchdowns, along with 29 receptions for 238 yards and two receiving touchdowns, to earn second team All Sun Belt honors. Overall McGuire racked up 5,695 yards from scrimmage and 52 touchdowns in a standout college career.
As a rookie with the Jets in 2017 Elijah McGuire received limited playing time as the third string back. He struggled in his limited snaps, running for 315 yards on 88 carries, good for a subpar 3.6 yards per carry. McGuire was a bit better as a receiver, hauling in 17 receptions on 26 targets for 177 yards and 6.8 yards per target. In all it was a somewhat underwhelming first year for Elijah McGuire, but Jets coaches raved about him in the off season and big things were expected in 2018. Then McGuire broke his foot in late July and landed on the injured reserve list, from which he has just recently been activated. Today will be McGuire’s first 2018 action for the Jets.
It’s no secret the Jets best chance for victory on offense lies in a strong running game. With a rookie quarterback currently ranked among the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL it has been vital to take some of the burden off of the passing game. It should surprise nobody to learn that in games where the Jets have run for less than 100 yards the team has a record of 0-4, and in games where the Jets have run for more than 100 yards the Jets sport a 3-1 record. With Bilal Powell out for the year due to a neck injury and Isaiah Crowell ineffective since his huge 200+ yard game four weeks ago, Elijah McGuire may represent the Jets best chance to jump start the Jets’ anemic running game today against the Dolphins.
The last time the Jets and the Dolphins played in mid September the Dolphins limited the Jets to a measly 42 yards rushing in a 20-12 Dolphins victory. That was the only game all season in which the Dolphins held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing. Over the last three weeks the Dolphins’ rush defense has completely collapsed, allowing opponents an average of 200 rushing yards per game, and at least 164 yards each game. Not surprisingly the Dolphins lost all three games.
This would appear to present the Jets a golden opportunity to get their running game revved up for a change, and Elijah McGuire may be just the guy to provide a spark. If McGuire can help lead a revitalized Jets running attack against a vulnerable Dolphins defense and take much of the pressure off Sam Darnold and the passing game in this contest, then the Jets stand a good chance to come out of Miami with a win. If on the other hand McGuire and the Jets running game is once again bottled up by the Dolphins, forcing Sam Darnold and the Jets passing game to carry the load, it will be difficult to pull off a road victory in Miami.
Welcome back Elijah McGuire. It may not be fair to expect much in your first game back, but fair or not, this is your time in the spotlight. If you can grab the opportunity in front of you and lead a Jets resurgence in the running game good things will likely await the Jets in Miami. Time to stake your claim to a big role in the Jets offense going forward. Time to justify the rave reviews of the Jets coaches this past summer. It’s your time Elijah. Time to bring home a Jets victory on Sunday.