Home | Articles | Podcasts | NY Jets running back preview 2021: Out with the old, in with the new

NY Jets running back preview 2021: Out with the old, in with the new

NY Jets running back preview 2021: Ty Johnson, Michael Carter.
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Following a much-needed overhaul, the NY Jets’ running back group has the potential to make a big positive impact in 2021.

The New York Jets‘ rushing offense during the 2020 season can be adequately summarized in two short words: Frank Gore.

At age 37, Gore had 187 carries for the Jets, nearly three times as many as their second-leading back, La’Mical Perine.

Former head coach Adam Gase insisted on playing Gore over the younger, more explosive backs on the roster. In turn, Gore averaged 3.5 yards per carry with a season-long run of 17 yards.

After firing Gase and letting Gore walk, the Jets spent the offseason injecting youth and talent into their backfield.

First, the Jets resigned backup Josh Adams to a one-year deal, keeping a solid depth piece. Next, Tevin Coleman followed new coach Robert Saleh from San Francisco to Florham Park in free agency.

Finally, in the draft, general manager Joe Douglas stole former Tar Heel Michael Carter in the fourth round, a prospect the Jets valued much higher than his draft slot.

Under new play-caller Mike LaFleur, the Jets running game figures to be much more of a group effort than it was in years prior.

Most modern west-coast systems – like the ones LaFleur has grown up in – deploy a backfield-by-committee approach. Rather than feature one player as the traditional “bell cow”, these teams prefer to spread the ball and limit fatigue. With the system putting speed at a premium, fresh legs are vital to keeping the offense successful.

Despite his inexperience, Carter looks poised to take the bulk of the load in the backfield in his rookie season. Carter’s speed, vision, and acceleration make him an ideal fit in the scheme. Be it taking the edge or hitting a cut-back, Carter should find plenty of running room early and often.

Behind Carter, Coleman’s experience and receiving skills make him a great third-down option. Coleman has played in Shanahan offenses his whole pro career, first being drafted by Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta before following him to San Francisco.

Throughout that time, Coleman was routinely productive as a runner and downright excellent as a slot receiver, as analyzed by Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania. In New York, Coleman should continue his steady play as the expected number two back.

Rounding out the stable are Ty Johnson, Adams, and Perine, the three players stuck behind Gore in 2020.

Of the three, Johnson should benefit most from the system change. His speed and explosion make him a natural fit as Carter’s backup on early downs.

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

However, Adams and Perine could be fighting for the same job come training camp. It’s possible the Jets keep only four backs on their final roster, leaving Adams or Perine out of the picture. Between the two, Adams’ short-yardage skills could seal him the job, as no other player on the team matches his power. Perine needs a big camp to ensure his spot is safe, even though he’s only entering his second year.

The Jets rushing attack should be infinitely more dangerous than the Frank Gore dives of yesteryear. With better players running better plays, Gang Green’s backfield is ready to take flight.

This week, the Oklahoma Drill Podcast continues its position preview with the running back position.

Listen to the full episode as hosts Andrew, Matt, and Vitor break down the whole backfield and their outlooks for 2021. Plus, stay tuned for a discussion on jet-motion and how Elijah Moore can help the run game.

Want More Jet X?

Subscribe to become a Jet X Member to unlock every piece of Jets X-Factor content (film breakdowns, analytics, Sabo with the Jets, etc.), get audio versions of each article, receive the ability to comment within our community, and experience an ad-free platform experience.

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Android (Google Play) device.

Sign up for Jet X Daily, our daily newsletter that's delivered to your inbox every morning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed and/or find us on Apple News to stay updated with the New York Jets.

Follow us on X (Formerly Twitter) @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Related Articles

About the Author

More From Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Like Adams for the fourth and final spot. Skill set a little different, has the size, don’t know if short yardage has been fully demonstrated. Has outstanding speed, very tall

Robby Sabo
2 years ago
Reply to  JetOrange

There’s no way they’re keeping five. I even think four might not happen (although it’s likely). No injuries, it’s Perine vs. Adams. Yes, they re-signed Adams, but that doesn’t guarantee him anything. Sometimes the cost of competition is some extra cap space that’ll only hurt a little bit in the now (not the future).

2 years ago
Reply to  Robby Sabo

I think you are correct, neither Perine or Adams offer a great deal for Special Teams. Austin Walter could be an excellent stash on the Practice Squad. 53 Roster math for the Offense. 9 Offensive Lineman , 3 TE’s, 2 QB’s, 6 WR’s, 1 FB, 3 RB’s total 24 plus Justin Hardee.