Jets Position Battle Breakdown And Analysis: Running Back

July 1, 2022

For the entirety of the 2010s and the start of the 2020s, the New York Jets have been in rebuild mode. They currently own the longest active playoff drought with 11 years. Their best season during that stretch was back in 2015 when they went 10-6 and just missed out on making the playoffs.

Since their last playoff appearance, the Jets have undergone plenty of personnel changes. The team is on their fourth head coach and sixth starting quarterback. The running back room has especially seen a lot of turnover, with their last 1,000-yard rusher being Chris Ivory in 2015.

The starting running back position is wide open, as the Jets have the following six players vying for the job: Breece Hall, Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, Zonovan Knight, and La’Mical Perine. The only two new players in the room are Hall and Knight, both being rookies.

The team has selected a running back in five of the last six Jets drafts, as the organization is still looking for their franchise running back. So could Hall be the answer for the Jets, or will they give the reins to someone else?

Jets Position Showdown

Running Back Battle

The running back position battle for the Jets is an interesting one. Hall comes in as the highest-drafted running back for the Jets since 1990 when they drafted Blair Thomas with the second overall pick. Carter was just drafted last year and started a majority of the games in New York. Coleman is the most senior back on the team, with the versatility to run and catch out of the backfield.

Perine showed promise in his rookie year but was barely used in 2021. Similar to Coleman, Johnson brings versatility out of the backfield. Knight has an uphill battle as an undrafted rookie but had a strong career at North Carolina State.

Diving Into Each Running Back

Let’s start with Hall, the 2022 Round 2 pick out of Iowa State. Hall was the best running back in the draft class and was the first one taken at the start of the 2nd Round. Coming in at 6’1 and 220 pounds, Hall was a workhorse for the Iowa State Cyclones. During his three-year collegiate career, he ran the ball 718 times for 3,941 yards and 50 touchdowns while having 82 catches for 734 yards and six touchdowns.

Hall was a two-time All-American and was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back years. One of the top running backs in college, Hall ran for 1,400+ yards and 20+ touchdowns in his final two seasons at Iowa State.

Last year, New York’s main starting running back was Carter, who started 11 games in his rookie season. Carter had 147 carries for 639 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.3 YPC. He also added 36 receptions for 325 yards. Though he’s the most undersized running back on the roster, Carter is a hard-nosed runner, as he had 345 yards after contact.

The veteran back on the roster is Coleman, who has seen success with the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. In his career, Coleman has rushed for 3,293 yards and 24 touchdowns and has 128 receptions for 1,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. However, he’s struggled with injuries over the past two years. 

In the past two seasons with the 49ers and Jets, Coleman has played in 19 games. He’s combined for just 409 rushing yards and 83 receiving yards with no touchdowns to his name. 

Johnson was claimed off waivers in 2020 by the Jets and has been with the team ever since. He started in three games last season, running the ball 61 times for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson was mainly used in the passing game, leading the running back room with 372 yards and two touchdowns on 34 receptions. However, he also led the team with seven drops.

Drafted in the fourth round in 2020, Perine saw some success as a rookie. He had 64 carries for 232 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 11 catches for 63 yards in 10 games. However, Perine quickly lost his spot on the roster in 2021 and only appeared in four games for the Jets. He only had eight carries for 31 yards in 2021.

The undrafted rookie on the roster is Knight, who comes to New York after three years at NC State. He had 419 carries for 2,286 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career, averaging 5.5 YPC. Knight also had 48 catches for 337 yards throughout his career. In 2021, he had 753 yards, three touchdowns, and 21 catches for 156 yards.

Knight was one of the top kick returners in the country, leading the nation with 34.4 yards per kickoff return. In 2021, he totaled 550 yards and two touchdowns on 16 kickoff returns and 923 yards and three touchdowns total in his career.

The Final Verdict

The Game Day’s Position Battle Prediction: Carter assumed the role of starter coming into this season after starting 11 games his rookie year. However, things have changed with the Jets taking Hall in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’ll be an even split between the two backs to start the season, with Hall ultimately winning the job. Coleman signed a one-year deal in the offseason and will remain the third running back on the depth chart.

Johnson is valuable in the passing game and could even pass Coleman on the depth chart but will start as the fourth-string running back. Knight will be signed to the practice squad, as his return skills will get him a spot on the roster. He could even become the primary returner if the team feels Braxton Berrios is more of an asset on offense. All signs point to Perine getting cut, as he only played in four games last season.