2021 New York Jets Preview: Running Backs

Jets Running Backs

Well New York Jets fans, get ready to be excited about the run game again. No more Adam Gase, Dowell Loggains, or whoever it was calling all those halfback dive plays. Goodbye to the disappointment of handing the ball to Frank Gore over younger Jets running backs. And (hopefully) sayonara to employing one of the most ineffective run games in the league. Now it is time for the Jets running backs to give fans a preview of what an effective rushing attack can be.

Yes, that’s right, there is hope in the Jets backfield again. Despite not having a Pro Bowl back or a definitive starter, New York has a strong outlook for their running backs in 2021. Here is a preview of how the Jets running backs could impact the team in 2021…

2021 New York Jets Preview: Running Backs

The Starter: Tevin Coleman

The Good

Right away, something must be clarified – the kind of backfield the Jets will have this season. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur comes to New York from San Francisco with Robert Saleh, as he runs a similar offense to that of 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. Filled with pre-snap movement, outside zone runs, and play-action passes, the Jets need backs who can run, catch, and block.

With that in mind, the call to sign veteran Tevin Coleman to a one-year deal was a genius one. The 28-year-old has spent the previous two seasons with the 49ers and is certainly familiar with the Jets new offense. Not to mention, Coleman is easily the most experienced back on the team.

Coleman is a do-it-all back, who can also provide a very effective blocker. With the exception of his injury-plagued 2020 season, he has averaged at least 4.6 yards per touch on his career. From 2016-2019 Coleman ran for at least 500 yards and caught at least 20 passes each season. Given his experience, chances are he will start at running back to begin the year.

The Bad

Over his first five seasons in the league, Coleman was one of the best committee backs in the league. Despite missing a couple of games each year due to injury, he always produced when on the field. Or at least he did until last year.

Coleman missed a career-high eight games and only started one of the eight he played in. He posted abysmal numbers, as he had 87 yards from scrimmage on 32 touches. Again, Coleman had great numbers in seasons prior and may have just been thrown off by lingering knee problems. But if the Jets cannot rely on Coleman to be a steady contributor, he may not stick on the roster all year.

The Backups: Michael Carter, Ty Johnson

Entering the 2021 NFL Draft, it was apparent the Jets would take a running back. It was just a matter of when. Well, it may not have come until the fourth round, but the Jets got their guy in North Carolina’s Michael Carter. Already, expectations around Carter are high, as he could be the primary ball carrier for Gang Green as soon as Week 1. He may be undersized at 5’8” and 201-pounds, but he gives the Jets that elusive back in space they need.

Meanwhile, Ty Johnson is another back who falls perfectly into what the Jets want. The 23-year-old Maryland product flashed his potential last season, somehow rushing for 4.7 yards per carry in Gase’s offense. A shifty runner in his own right, Johnson’s strong finish to 2020 has set him up well for a roll in 2021.

The Bubble: La’Mical Perine, Josh Adams, Austin Walter

As for La’Mical Perine, he is fighting for his roster spot in only year two. During the Frank Gore mayhem last season, all fans wanted was to see their fourth-round pick carry the football. Except, when he did, Perine was not exactly effective. On the year, he took 64 carries for 232 yards, making for a 3.6 average. As always, the Gase factor may have had a role in his so-so rookie numbers. However, Perine’s physical running style combined with lack of one-cut ability have him on the bubble.

At the same time, Josh Adams has shown he can be a bruiser while still being able to make smooth cuts. He ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns on a 5.4 yards per carry average, most notably with an average of 3.6 yards coming after initial contact. At 6’2” and 225-pounds, Adams is the biggest of the Jets backs and could be the go-to short-yardage back if he makes the roster.

Austin Walter has been the forgotten man in the Jets running back room. Acquired off of waivers from the 49ers in May, he has experience working with LaFleur before. He only has one carry for three yards in his career but offers a solid option as a return man and special teams’ player. At 5’8” and 202-pounds, Walter also falls into the do-it-all running back category, with 744 receiving yards over his final two seasons at Rice.

Final Running Backs Analysis

After watching the success of the 49ers run game the last few seasons, it is hard not to get excited about the Jets backfield in 2021. A healthy Tevin Coleman is a very underrated rusher, Michael Carter has high upside, and Ty Johnson looks to pick up where he left off last year. In order for the Jets passing game to pick up in year one of the Zach Wilson era, their running backs must produce.

Stay tuned for the next article in the 2021 New York Jets Preview series with wide receivers!

2021 New York Jets Preview Series: Quarterbacks

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images


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