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State of the Jets, Running Backs: A Packed House

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Le'Veon Bell

Entering training camp, the New York Jets look to have a loaded group at running back.  There are currently seven backs under contract. While it’s no surprise that new addition Le’Veon Bell will be the feature back, the depth chart behind him is a bit of an unknown. Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon are picks that were made by previous GM Mike Maccagnan, while Bilal Powell will be entering his 9th season in Green and White.

Former Green Bay Packers tailback Ty Montgomery is a new addition this offseason, and looks to also compete for a role on special teams. At the bottom of the list is unproven De’Angelo Henderson and undrafted free agent Valentine Holmes, who will have an exempted spot on the practice squad as an international player.

Adam Gase likes to run a multiple look offense that is tailored around his roster’s strengths and weaknesses. This will create opportunity for more than one running back to be on the field at a time, which can confuse opposing teams schematically. It is very likely we will see Bell and Montgomery split out wide or in the slot often, as Gase loves to utilize backs who have shown themselves to be a threat in the passing game.

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Bilal Powell is hoping to prove he’s still good enough to perform after a neck injury in 2018.

If Powell can return to form after suffering a nearly career ending neck injury last season, he will compete with Montgomery as the backup. McGuire and Cannon will have a battle throughout training camp to see who will end up as RB3, with McGuire getting the push in experience and overall potential. Cannon was a bit of a disappointment in his rookie season, but proved to be a reliable gunner on special teams. If he is able to improve his return skills, he may avoid getting cut. If he is in danger of not making the 53-man roster, the Jets may be able to stash him on IR to start the season.

The Jets will likely trim the number of running backs they keep on the roster in half, keeping only 4 to start the year. Due to inexperience and lack of production, Cannon and Henderson are the long shots. However, if Powell can’t recover enough to play at full speed, releasing him would possibly signal the end of his career.

Gase and Co. will have many decisions to make regarding the position in the upcoming months, and it sets up for healthy competition in the summer. The versatility of this group gives it the Jets plenty of moving parts and opportunities to create mismatches.  A welcome change from year’s past.

The post State of the Jets, Running Backs: A Packed House appeared first on JetNation.com (NY Jets Blog & Forum).

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In football, and in real life sometimes, there's such a thing as a good problem to have.

 

I just hope our offense is aggressive. I finally think we have some real talent on O. So tired of up-the-middle, up-the-middle, short pass, punt. 

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Montgomery is much more of a WR than a RB, so it would be great if Bilal is healthy enough to be the primary backup to Le'Veon ahead of McGuire on the depth chart.

But I almost don't want Bilal returning for his own sake.  A depth chart of Le'Veon-McGuire-Montgomery-Cannon/other isn't exactly a "stacked" RB group.  It's a very good one because of Le'Veon but not a deep one. 

My guess is we're not done adding players to that group.  All of our current RB's on the depth chart are from the Maccagnan era.

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The numbers game will be interesting but I think the new regime will look at RB, WR and TE as a whole and not necessarily allocate specific headcounts for each position individually.  The Jets won't roster a true FB so I could see all of Bell, Powell, McGuire and Montgomery making the team, possibly Cannon as well if you believe what Brant Boyer said about him recently.  I also think the Jets may carry more TEs than we'd usually think.  All this could put pressure on the WRs but as was stated above, Montgomery essentially fits into both the RB and WR bucket.  After Robby, Enunwa, and Crowder there's a real drop-off in both talent and experience to guys like Burnett, etc.

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So let's say Montgomery and Bell make the team for sure. Then you have Powell -- who I love but inevitably misses games. So does that mean you keep a 4th running back? Maybe Cannon because of his special teams play?

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Other than Bell, there isn't much there tbqh. 

Bell better stay healthy or this O will take a very severe dropoff.

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18 hours ago, Warfish said:

Other than Bell, there isn't much there tbqh. 

Bell better stay healthy or this O will take a very severe dropoff.

Bell is a top 5 Running back. Montgomery and Powell are running back by committee types. McGuire I’m not sure on, although Stump Mitchell loves him. Cannon is on specials or cut.

In summary I think we can get by even if Bell gets hurt. It’s the best depth I’ve seen for a while at Running back. 

Its not a position I’m worried about. Cornerback, Edge rusher, Oline, are my biggest areas of concern.

 

 

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4 hours ago, BurnleyJet said:

Bell is a top 5 Running back. Montgomery and Powell are running back by committee types. McGuire I’m not sure on, although Stump Mitchell loves him. Cannon is on specials or cut.

In summary I think we can get by even if Bell gets hurt. It’s the best depth I’ve seen for a while at Running back. 

Its not a position I’m worried about. Cornerback, Edge rusher, Oline, are my biggest areas of concern.

 

 

Bell goes down, we drop materially in our ability to run, as you notice, O-line isn't a strength (or doesn't appear to be as of today).

But we do have Bell.  So it's not a concern, unlike CB (as you noted) which is just plain weak.

I' ve been told by some very...vocal....fans that our recently drafted EDGE guy, the guy who blew his workouts, is actually an elite player and a draft steal.  So until I get to see that kid play at the pro level, I'm not going to worry about EDGE.  We have top-of-draft #1 picks at two D-Line spots and a multi-year All-Pro now at LB.  If this kid has what it takes, he should have plenty of support in the front ranks to help him show it.

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At the end of the day the Montgomery and Powell signings likely give you an idea what the new regime thinks of Maguire and Cannon. They feel like they're very much on the roster bubble... They better hope they contribute on special teams.

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22 hours ago, Drums said:

So let's say Montgomery and Bell make the team for sure. Then you have Powell -- who I love but inevitably misses games. So does that mean you keep a 4th running back? Maybe Cannon because of his special teams play?

You keep McGuire over Cannon if there is a 4th and Powell ends up making it. 

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2 hours ago, PepPep said:

You keep McGuire over Cannon if there is a 4th and Powell ends up making it. 

Why?  Cannon is better on specials  They both averaged 3 ypc last year. It's not like McGuire was any better and Cannon was coming out of a nowhere little school.  Cannon is not a very natural receiver, but his numbers were as good as McGuire.  Let them fight it out in camp.  One may fit the system better.  Montgomery has a $90K guarantee. He is no lock, I am surprised they brought back Powell, but he has always been a good soldier and solid as a spot starter, so i'd expect him to make it. 

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3 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

Why?  Cannon is better on specials  They both averaged 3 ypc last year. It's not like McGuire was any better and Cannon was coming out of a nowhere little school.  Cannon is not a very natural receiver, but his numbers were as good as McGuire.  Let them fight it out in camp.  One may fit the system better.  Montgomery has a $90K guarantee. He is no lock, I am surprised they brought back Powell, but he has always been a good soldier and solid as a spot starter, so i'd expect him to make it. 

Cannon’s ST value is what puts him over Eli McGuire tbh. Boyer is a fan.

Eli is probably going to get cut if you ask me..

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6 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

Why?  Cannon is better on specials  They both averaged 3 ypc last year. It's not like McGuire was any better and Cannon was coming out of a nowhere little school.  Cannon is not a very natural receiver, but his numbers were as good as McGuire.  Let them fight it out in camp.  One may fit the system better.  Montgomery has a $90K guarantee. He is no lock, I am surprised they brought back Powell, but he has always been a good soldier and solid as a spot starter, so i'd expect him to make it. 

Montgomery fits as the best direct, if significantly lesser, replacement for Bell if Bell can't go. He also has the ability to fill in at WR, where the Jets are perilously thin. Plus, he's the guy that was brought in since Gase got here, as opposed to Cannon and McGuire. I think he's about as safe as can be. 

I agree that Cannon might deserve extra consideration over McGuire due to his special teams work. Powell makes it even harder for McGuire, doing the same things but generally better. Gase had no problem riding a 35-year-old Frank Gore last year, so age probably isn't a factor if he doesn't see potential. The Jets could also look at the position again in the mini-draft. 

Don't really see it as the packed house the article makes it out to be. 

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2 hours ago, PepPep said:

You keep McGuire over Cannon if there is a 4th and Powell ends up making it. 

Eli is clearly the better running back but he doesn't play special teams and Cannon has emerged as the top gunner, so maybe the coaches look at him as more important at this point. I am playing devil's advocate. 

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35 minutes ago, Patriot Killa said:

Cannon’s ST value is what puts him over Eli McGuire tbh. Boyer is a fan.

Eli is probably going to get cut if you ask me..

I think the board looks down on Cannon on specials because he had trouble fielding punts.  Catching punts is not super easy and if McGuire could do it they'd have asked him. Cannon was a rookie coming from D2 that hadn't returned punts in college.  Maybe he practiced catching them all offseason and will be okay.  He does have some value as a gunner and kick returner

Maybe he was a 24 year old rookie and will be gone.  Montgomery finished his rookie deal and is only a year and a half older. McGuire is a month older than Cannon.  Maccagnan drafted a ton of older guys, so the new staff won't be keeping them around because they are so young.  Cannon's college coach was a teammate of Boyer's in the NFL for 4 years, so presumably that had an influence on him being selected. 

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13 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

I think the board looks down on Cannon on specials because he had trouble fielding punts.  Catching punts is not super easy and if McGuire could do it they'd have asked him. Cannon was a rookie coming from D2 that hadn't returned punts in college.  Maybe he practiced catching them all offseason and will be okay.  He does have some 

Maybe he was a 24 year old rookie and will be gone.  Montgomery finished his rookie deal and is only a year and a half older. McGuire is a month older than Cannon.  Maccagnan drafted a ton of older guys, so the new staff won't be keeping them around because they are so young.  Cannon's college coach was a teammate of Boyer's in the NFL for 4 years, so presumably that had an influence on him being selected. 

Exactly. He really came on as a gunner towards the end of the season though. Took Peakes job pretty easily. 

Cannon is definitely going to be picked over Eli. If Bilal comes back to serve as a #2 or #3, whatever the case may be with his role, where does Eli fit in? What purpose does he have? So it’ll be Cannon for sure. Would be nice for Cannon to run a decent wheel route or two every once in a blue moon. Would help his roster spot security too.

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24 minutes ago, slats said:

Montgomery fits as the best direct, if significantly lesser, replacement for Bell if Bell can't go. He also has the ability to fill in at WR, where the Jets are perilously thin. Plus, he's the guy that was brought in since Gase got here, as opposed to Cannon and McGuire. I think he's about as safe as can be. 

I agree that Cannon might deserve extra consideration over McGuire due to his special teams work. Powell makes it even harder for McGuire, doing the same things but generally better. Gase had no problem riding a 35-year-old Frank Gore last year, so age probably isn't a factor if he doesn't see potential. The Jets could also look at the position again in the mini-draft. 

Don't really see it as the packed house the article makes it out to be. 

I think Cannon is competing with Peake as gunner as much as McGuire as RB.  See my prior post - Boyer has ties to Reggie Barlow who was Cannon's college coach.  Good chance that Boyer is why he was selected.  

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2 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

I think Cannon is competing with Peake as gunner as much as McGuire as RB.  See my prior post - Boyer has ties to Reggie Barlow who was Cannon's college coach.  Good chance that Boyer is why he was selected.  

I agree, with Montgomery's WR ability a factor that helps Cannon. 

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Outside of bell and powell, our rbs are terrible.  We need to draft a stud rb in one of the first 3 rounds next year.

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I think McGuire is the one who will be most desperate to impress in camp if he wants any chance to make this team, as the current FO and coaching staff has no commitment to him, and his resume to date is pretty bad.  While some fans have fond memories, a quick look back makes you realize that he grabbed people's attention with a pretty big performance in the first game that we got to see a significant amount of him.  However, since then his performances have been far from impressive, and has regularly been the worst performer amongst all of the Jets' RBs.

Further consider that he doesn't bring along the special teams contributions that Cannon can use to sell himself, plus the return of the unquestionably superior Powell, and new acquisition of Montgomery, I think he, quite deservedly, has the worst odds of the bunch.

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hadn't paid much attention to Cannon's production as a gunner, nice to be educated on his strength in that role.

Is the general thought that he also will be the default Punt Returner and/or Kick Returner?

I am fearful if that is the case. 

Maybe it was just seeing weekly the contrast of him versus Andre Roberts in how natural Andre was and how shaky Cannon was fielding the kicks. 

I don't believe that is a skill that can be learned, I think you either have it or you don't   jmo

Impressed with Boyer being in charge of Specials, so will give Cannon benefit of doubt if that is Boyer's choice ... would def prefer someone else back there though 

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28 minutes ago, ljr said:

hadn't paid much attention to Cannon's production as a gunner, nice to be educated on his strength in that role.

Is the general thought that he also will be the default Punt Returner and/or Kick Returner?

I am fearful if that is the case. 

Maybe it was just seeing weekly the contrast of him versus Andre Roberts in how natural Andre was and how shaky Cannon was fielding the kicks. 

I don't believe that is a skill that can be learned, I think you either have it or you don't   jmo

Impressed with Boyer being in charge of Specials, so will give Cannon benefit of doubt if that is Boyer's choice ... would def prefer someone else back there though 

To be fair, I have heard more about him being a good gunner than actually noticed it, though I could say the same about Peake. I do generally notice these things, going back to Wallace Wright and as far back as Marion Barber and Jerry Holmes.  Cannon did have 8 solo tackles. 

The Boyer connection is pure conjecture on my part, though there are some facts behind it.

Catching punts is a skill, but repetition certainly makes it easier.  take this from someone who as a 43 year old WR was told in the middle of a playoff game "You! You have good hands.  Get back there for the next one."  This came after 3 Italians muffed or fumbled   punts. Believe me, it would have made a huge difference if I had done it some time since I graduated high school and honestly, the reps I took at the half with the punter made a huge difference.  Bonus was that it got me out of hearing the usual rah-rah halftime speech which I often had to translate to my teammates. 

Cannon never returned a punt during the season and he was actually 10th in average for the preseason - 4 returns for 41 with 1 fair catch.  JJ Jones on the Jets was ahead, along with former Jets JoJo Natson and Khalif Raymond. He had a couple of muffs in the 1st game against the Falcons.  I think he attributed them to trying to get a second peek at the coverage before the catch.  You have to peek, but peeking too late you lose the ball. No surprise that Roberts who is 30 and has been returning punts for the last 15 years consecutively would look more smooth.  Most likely, he just can't do it, but there are reasons to believe that he might. 

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I really liked what I've seen from McGuire the past 2 seasons. I don't get the negativity he gets around here, he had azz clowns for coaches on offense. McGuire is a better option than Cannon imo. Cannon had like 6 muffed kicks and 4 fumbles last year alone. 

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4 minutes ago, TNJet said:

I really liked what I've seen from McGuire the past 2 seasons. I don't get the negativity he gets around here, he had azz clowns for coaches on offense. McGuire is a better option than Cannon imo. Cannon had like 6 muffed kicks and 4 fumbles last year alone. 

That is interesting.  I don't really get how anybody likes what they have seen from 3.6 and 3.0 ypc.  Also interesting in that Cannon had 0 fumbles, 0 punt returns and 1 kick return all season.  Roberts returned both.  Remember?  The kid had one bad game trying to return punts in the preseason. He also had the same azz clowns for coaches on offense. They both were similar, but fairly awful last year.  BTW, McGuire had 2 fumbles last year and two the year before.  He is averaging a fumble ever 54 touches or so.  The fact that Powell was signed doesn't bode well for either of them.

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I like cannon because he brings a dynamic speed element when he is on the field. You have to pay attention to him no matter how many bone headed plays he makes. He’s a nice little X factor for specific situations. I think Bilal is the odd man out unfortunately.

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