Speed is deadly in the NFL when used correctly. Speed from a ball carrier forces defenders to make decisions quicker, possibly before they have had a chance to completely analyze the situation. This can cause mistakes, errors in judgements, and miscommunications. Speed also keeps defensive coordinators up nights. They worry about splash plays. When these coordinators worry they tend to play their defenders a step or two further back or wider. This can provide QBs a little larger windows, runners a wider seam.
The more room that an offense can make a defense cover, the more room they have to make plays. This is the antithesis of the Derrick Henry approach which dares defenses to condense in order to stop a runaway freight train. This approach tries to make a defense use man coverage on their receivers. If you believe your wide receivers can win those battles then it’s a strong strategy. The problem is you need Derrick Henry to run it.
The speed offense in today’s NFL is run nicely by Kansas City. They make you cover deep, short, and intermediate routes run vertically and horizontally. They look for speed in their receivers but also quickness; a suddenness that can explode at any time. Teams will play two deep safeties against superior speed so as to not get beat over the top. Yet Tyreek Hill can take a short pass, elude a defender, then run the length of the field.
This type of offense is not just about receivers. Running backs play a part too. Imagine a running back to each side of the QB who each has speed and quickness. The linebackers who need to drop into deeper zones because of receiver speed would risk giving up huge plays in the flat to those running backs. If the linebackers widen out to the flat or drop less deep it opens up larger passing windows for the QB downfield. You make a defense play a game of pick your poison.
With the Jets in need of many positions in this (if not all recent) NFL Drafts it behooves them to find some players who fit the above criteria and can be found in the late second or early third day of the draft. One player who could be a hidden gem is Tyler Badie.
Badie (pronounced Bay-dee) was born in New Orleans and like so many had to relocate with his family after Hurricane Katrina. His family moved to Maryland and then to Memphis, Tennessee. Badie originally committed to the University of Memphis but later changed his mind then signed with Missouri of the SEC. His first three years Badie only had about 9 1⁄2 touches a game playing behind Larry Roundtree who was a 6th round pick by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Badie was considered a change of pace back through most of his career because he is a diminutive player at 5’ 8” and about 200 lbs. He was given the chance to be a bell cow during the 2021 season then he exploded. As Jim Nagy of the Senior Bowl said, “Tyler really took advantage of his opportunity this year being the full-time starter [at Missouri] with Larry Roundtree gone. He’s kind of low to the ground, he’s built how you want a running back built. In terms of burst, this guy can get away from people in a hurry, so in the screen game, things like that, get him out in space, he can be dynamic.”
Badie is a stretch zone based player who is a one cut runner with a exceptional burst. He is patient, allowing the blocks to form then acceleration through the hole. When the blocking is adequate the results can be outstanding.
This is an outside zone run play that is blocked very nicely. Remember the line (who all move in unison to the left) is not trying to open any distinct hole. They are moving their men along hoping a crease will open up between them. It’s Badie’s job to find the right hole. A stretch zone runner is used to running in severe traffic. He has to have at least short level vision to be able to work his way through the mosh pit of players.
Badie has great short and next level vision. He can see openings before they are actually there both close to him and also on the 2nd and 3rd levels of the defense. You have to be able to read the blocking quickly then make a decisive move in rapid fashion. Watch as Badie receives the ball head up then he sees the hole, and plants his left foot in the turf. He is off. It’s not a straight shot. He moves in then back out to avoid the defenders. He does so quickly. The unblocked CB thinks he is headed outside. He only takes two steps up, but it’s enough for Badie to run through the hole then by the CB before he can make it back to Badie. A good zone based runner needs patience, vision, decisiveness, and quickness. He must have a burst then break away speed. Badie has all of these qualities.
This next play is a read option look with Missouri pulling their backside guard and tackle on an off tackle play to the left. The QB was never going to keep this ball, but he carries out the fake as to hold the safety to his side. That fake worked perfectly as that safety never is able to get back over to the opposite side of the field to make a play because of the hesitation.
Badie is not a powerful RB because of his size, but he is very stout with great balance. You can see that Badie can break arm tackles plus his short stature makes him tough to find through the crowd on huge linemen. This situation will only become more pronounced in the NFL as players are notably bigger than the average college lineman. Defenders on the 2nd and 3rd levels will find it hard so see where he is especially when he changes direction within the mosh pit of players at the line of scrimmage. They will see him as he exits the pile of humanity, but he may do so then just fly by them with a head of steam.
One thing that Badie can do is catch passes. He had 54 receptions in 2021 and 126 in his career including 11 TDs at Missouri. In fact Badie is the first RB in Missouri history with 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in a career.
There is nothing special about the offensive play here. It is like I mentioned at the start. Speed and making a defense defend the entire field are how you can score if you have the right personnel. When a defense is guessing where the offense is going to attack they become passive, it is said they are “playing on their heels.” Stretching a defense horizontally as well as vertically will wear them out from chasing offensive players all over the field.
This is a play similar to the one Badie made at the Senior Bowl practices on Thursday. He didn’t score, but it was a long catch and run for the offense.
This is a 3rd and 15 play from the 17 yard line with his team trailing by a touchdown in the 4th quarter. You can see the good contact balance as Badie runs through a tackle at the 11 yard line. That player was no little cornerback that was 6’ 2” 250 lbs linebacker K. D. McDaniel that Badie broke the tackle from. McDaniel read the play, was in position, and had a wrap tackle on Badie. Still he broke through it without breaking stride. You also see the desire to finish the play as he knocks his own man out of the way as he stretches for the TD.
Badie is a one cut runner, but that doesn’t mean he is without some wiggle. He is compact with quick feet. He can juke you or run through you whatever works.
This is a little sidestep/jump cut that he uses on the safety right on the sideline. Badie ran 4.46/40 in high school so he is probably a little faster now. The outside line backer (#1) had some momentum before Badie made it out of his jump cut, or this might have been six points. Badie is quick and fast in short areas, but is not going to have elite long speed.
This next play is a straight hand off on a power set with a two tight end look. This play is against a strong Texas A&M team the week after they beat Alabama. Missouri had a problem blocking the defensive front all day, but all Badie needs is a crease or a small hole for him to make a splash play.
This play is emblematic of the Badie skill set all rolled up in a single play. You have the vision with great quickness at the start to see a lane, move right, then quickly back left. You see the explosion (burst) through the hole with another move right then back left. Then you see him break a tackle and get down the sideline while keeping the defender at bay. Then finally you get the desire with ability to pull that defender the final 5 yards into the end zone for the score.
All it takes is one play. That is the type of run that can inspire an entire team.
We don’t want to get away from the skill set that the Jets will covet from a running back for their offense. This is a stretch zone run that is done well by all involved. This seems like a simple play, but it is run very effectively.
This is great zone blocking with every player on the offensive line moving left in unison. The offensive linemen who are covered will drive their men left with the uncovered linemen moving to the 2nd level to cut off pursuit. Missouri is using a H-back on this play similar to the 49ers use of Kyle Juszczyk to kick out the safety paving the way for the TD.
As Badie gets the ball he sees the nice opening but he has patience as a runner. He waits for the H-back to make his block then he kicks that burst into high gear, cutting right off the butt of the H-back and into the end zone untouched.
This next play is a version of the last play although run to the other side. The blocking is not as good as the H-back neglects to hit the safety cutting through the line, and the WR does nothing to halt the OLB (#88) either.
Again the skill set is apparent as he breaks an arm tackle immediately and bounces off the OLB in a direct collision. He shows great contact balance by spinning away from the tackler. He barely breaks stride as he rights himself then heads up field. After a lengthy run he is chased down by a player with a great angle. That player is bigger than him (6’ 1”), but he shrugs it off gaining another 14 yards before he is corralled. This was a 50 yard run without the benefit of great blocking.
Many will look at Badie as a gadget player, someone too small to be a full time player, and there is some truth to that thought process. I look at Badie as a player with a defined skill set who could work in tandem or in an alternating timeshare with Michael Carter. Both are skilled receivers so if they were on the field together they each would be tough matchups in coverage for any linebacker.
In 2021 Badie (despite his size) was the bell cow back for the Missouri Tigers. His 268 carries by far led the team. He also led the team in receptions with 54. He combined for almost 2,000 scrimmage yards on 322 touches with 18 TDs. This includes a three game stretch to end the season against South Carolina, Florida, and Arkansas where he had 111 touches for 589 yards and 3 TDs. He did all that work in 13 days. He had two 200 yard rushing games and his lowest total for the three games was 146 yards. Here he is against Florida on two consecutive plays in overtime.
After Florida scored a TD on their initial overtime possession Missouri countered with a wide zone play to the right. Florida’s defense is spread out sideline to sideline with 9 men within 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. Even with two deep safeties 11yards back this is a run stopping defensive formation.
This turns into a mosh pit with players screaming up from the 2nd level to help in run support. Badie is patient. He waits for the blocks to form then makes his way to the opening on the outside then accelerates down to the 13 yard line. The next play is essentially the same play except it is being run to now the short side of the field.
When the cornerback to that side of thee field blitzes, he takes himself out of the play. This allows the receiver he was over top of to find the safety in the end zone then hold him up enough to allow Badie to score. Of course he doesn’t tiptoe in. He lays a shoulder into the safety as he blasts into the end zone. Missouri surprisingly went for two and the short pass was complete giving them the victory.
This last play is the final run of Badie’s Missouri career which is a touchdown from 7 yards out. It’s not a great run, but it is symbolic that he scored a TD on his last run.
This run was the 41st of the game for Badie, the 102nd in the last 13 days, and gave him 219 yards rushing for the game against a tough Arkansas team. In fact Badie went over 200 yards rushing 5 times out of 12 games in 2021. This is in the SEC, supposedly the toughest conference in all college football. To put that in perspective Leonard Fournette had 4-200 yard games in 2015. Derrick Henry also had 4 in 2015 on his way to the Heisman. Herschel Walker had 4 in 1980, and Bo Jackson had 4 in 1985. Tyler Badie is the only player to have 5 200 yard rushing games in the SEC in a single season.
Badie is a tough kid plus he didn’t miss a game all year for any reason. He is a splash play waiting to happen; in 2021 he had 46 runs of at least 10 yards. Badie protects the ball well; in his 322 touches this year he didn’t have a single fumble and only had 2 fumbles in 516 rushes his entire career.
He is a quality receiver as well. He lined up as a wide receiver 61 times and had 126 receptions for 1,149 yards and 11 TDs in his career. Remember Badie was the backup his first three years in Missouri so he didn’t get the type of reps you would need to put up a huge stat line. Plus Missouri wasn’t a top level program so many times they were underdogs in their matchups.
Tyler Badie is an electric type of player that every team needs. He is going to be looked at as a specialty player by most teams so I believe he will be drafted in the mid 3rd round area. I think his value to a team is higher than that, but diminutive players have had this type of stereotype for years. There are always exceptions but a guy like Reggie Bush (who was way overdrafted) keep that narrative alive.
What is nice about Badie is he is versatile. He can do most anything you need to have a running back do. He will be challenged in pass protection in the NFL so that is the only negative I see in his game. He is just too small to be a constant blocker against some of the behemoths in the NFL. Yet when you bring Badie into a game he can run the ball, catch a ball out of the backfield, or split out as a pass receiver.
He has very strong for his size. He is a natural wide zone runner. He has patience. He can break tackles with excellent contact balance. He is just tough to knock off his feet. He has speed and elusiveness along with vision on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd levels. He is a competitor. He likes the challenge of a tough game. He is a football player not a track guy.
Badie was held out of the Senior Bowl game after a great week of practice supposedly because of “bumps and bruises.”
Only time will tell, but having a couple of running backs with similar skill sets makes it easier to continue an offense should one of you premier players go down. The Jets need a lot of help so trading down to amass a bunch of picks in the late 2nd or 3rd rounds might be a strategy. We shall see.
That’s what I think.
What do you think?