There's something Jets QB Geno Smith began doing in December that really helped him as a passer: He started running the ball. In those final four games, Smith racked up 186 of the 366 rushing yards he would compile during a season in which he started all 16 games, and he ran it 10 times in both of the season's final two games, both of which were Jets victories.
"Last year at this time, it was 24/7 coaching footwork, where his eyes are, what his progression is, who his initial read is, all of the different looks he could see," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "This year, we call a play, and—boom, he’s sprinting in and he’s got it. Quite different than last year."
Figuring out how and when to tuck it in and run—especially for a quarterback who was every bit a traditional pocket passer in college at West Virginia—was something of a eureka moment for Smith, at least according to Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee.
"In early December it started happening and [we] started seeing it in practice, him really finishing plays and starting to know where people are and really getting it when we told him we wanted to him run with the football," Lee said. "The taking off and running part just really took hold of him and started to mesh in his brain about December and he started hurting people running the football in the last month of the season. So, I think that made him more of a threat."
Smith finished as the #20 QB in his rookie season, but his per game production (12.5 PPG) left something to be desired. He showed a better-than-expected ability to run around the goal line, resulting in six rushing TDs. Mornhinweg mentioned Smith's play in the final four games of the season. He did average 20.0 fantasy points during that span, compared with just 10.0 FP in the first 12 games. He ran for three TDs down the stretch while throwing for just 198 yards and 1.0 TD. From a fantasy perspective, it would probably be better if the experienced Michael Vick were under center, but it certainly sounds like it's Smith's job to lose. The arrival of Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and Jace Amaro should help.
Goodson failed to show up for mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, just the latest in a string of complications since the running back signed with the Jets over a year ago.
“Obviously it’s disappointing,” GM John Idzik said Wednesday. “We gave Mike, we feel in good conscience, every opportunity here with the Jets and unfortunately it didn’t work out so we made the move ultimately that we felt was best for the team.”
This doesn't have much of a fantasy impact with the arrival of Chris Johnson, but it's noteworthy nonetheless. Goodson has talent, but it doesn't matter if he can't keep things together off the field.
"Personally, I expect it to fall into place quickly and for Sankey to emerge as the busiest of the Titans' running backs three or four games into the season. You don't spend a second-round pick on a running back — and make him the first running back drafted — to turn him into a spectator.
"Let's be clear: I'm not saying Sankey will be an every-down back or that his touches will come close to the 21 per game Chris Johnson averaged in his six seasons with the Titans. With a new coaching staff and a different vision for the offense, the Titans will use multiple backs, fitting the player to the situation."
HC Ken Whisenhunt did split RB duties between Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead as the Chargers' OC last year, so we could see Sankey and Dexter McCluster filling those roles in Tennessee. Sankey is probably going to be better in the passing game than Mathews, so he has a bit more upside as a three-down back. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class and joined a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 6:45pm
Jets RB Chris Johnson participated in individual drills Tuesday, as the team opened its three-day mini camp. But he did not participate in any 11-on-11 team periods.
Johnson had spent the Jets’ nine organized team activities just rehabilitating his left knee. He rode a stationary bike and worked with trainers on the sideline. Johnson played through a torn meniscus in the knee last season with the Titans. He underwent surgery in January to repair it.
“That’s up to him,” running backs coach Anthony Lynn told the Daily News. “He’s definitely going to get the ball. So, it’s what he does with the ball… He can have as many yards as he wants.”
“He wants every single rep,” Lynn said. “That’s the type of attitude most running backs have. They want every single rep. I think that’s good. I think that’s healthy. It just means that he’s competitive. But how we split those up remains to be seen. By the time we go through the process, the cream will rise to the top like it always does. We’ll go ahead with a couple guys. And then they’ll do it by committee anyway.”
“We’ve always played the hot guy,” Lynn added. “It doesn’t matter who it is. If you go in there and produce, you usually stay in.”
Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt on RB Shonn Greene:
The Titans already did away with one running back from a year ago in Chris Johnson, so would they really consider sending another one packing? I haven't heard any buzz suggesting it could happen, but let's just say stranger things have happened. This much is known: Greene was underwhelming in 2013, and he recently had a second knee surgery. He's scheduled to earn $2.3 million in 2014, and that's not chump change. The Titans drafted Bishop Sankey, and the team plans to use Dexter McCluster in the backfield. A big back is on board in Jackie Battle, and undrafted rookie Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky is no slouch. Greene won't take part in the OTAs, so he'll need to prove his worth in camp.
We're projecting Sankey to be the clear RB1 after the Titans took him as the first back in the draft. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class while joining a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013. For more on Sankey's potential production, see The Rookie Rundown.
The New York Jets' new star running back still isn't ready to join his teammates on the field.
Chris Johnson says his surgically repaired right knee is "feeling good" and "getting better." But when asked Thursday if he will participate in any of the Jets' OTA offseason workouts, Johnson said, "probably not."
"I think they're gonna hold me out of OTAs and just let me continue to rehab until I get 100 percent," Johnson said, at the Jets' first player availability of the offseason. "Take it slow, since I have time on my side, and just be ready for [training] camp."
Johnson underwent surgery in late January to repair a torn meniscus, an injury he played through last season. He said he just began doing straight-ahead running this week, and will continue to rehab when the team's OTAs begin next week.
Beat writer Manish Mehta predicts a 35% to 40% decline in carries for Johnson as he forms a 1-2 punch with Chris Ivory. That decline would put Johnson in the 167-181 carry range, though we'd guess that he'll get at least 200 carries in the Jets' run-heavy offense. (Bilal Powell rushed the ball 176 times in 2013.) The Jets have averaged 493.5 carries over the past two seasons, so it's conceivable that Ivory and Johnson could both reach around 200 carries, provided they both stay healthy.
Daryl Richardson wasn't out of work for long.
Richardson joins a crowded backfield in New York that includes free-agent pickup Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell. CJ2K and the bruising Ivory are expect to split time and receive the bulk of carries.
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 8:06pm
Chris Johnson told Michael Kay and Don La Greca on ESPN New York 98.7 that the Jets plan to have Geno Smith and Michael Vick compete for the starting job during the team's training camp in Cortland, N.Y. Any idea who has the inside track?
"They didn't give me no indication," Johnson said. "They said those two will battle it out in camp and may the best man win."
Ivory and Bilal Powell had a nearly 50-50 split in carries last season, so it’s conceivable that Johnson could see about a 35%-40% decline in carries if the Jets stick to that formula. Johnson also provides insurance if Ivory, who has durability concerns, misses time.
A 35% to 40% decline would put Johnson in the 167-181 carry range, though we'd guess that he'll get at least 190 to 210 carries in the Jets' run-heavy offense. (Bilal Powell rushed the ball 176 times in 2013.) The Jets have averaged 493.5 carries over the past two seasons, so it's conceivable that Ivory and Johnson could both reach around 200 carries, provided they both stay healthy. Assuming 240 total touches for Johnson (200 carries, 40 catches) at his 2012-2013 FP/touch rate (.609), he would score around 146 fantasy points, or RB20 numbers.
Johnson will form a one-two punch with incumbent Chris Ivory, who started to run better as the season wore on. Obviously this is bad news for Ivory, who isn't likely to see a 'bell cow' type workload with Johnson on the roster. Neither player looks like a fantasy RB2 until we have an idea of how the depth chart and workload shake out.
In standard formats, Johnson has finished #16 or better in each of his six seasons with the Titans, and managed to finish #12 and #9 in 2012 and 2013. He'll be 29 in September, but he's unlikely to land in a role where he'll get 300+ touches, which has been the norm in Tennessee. His detractors say that his explosion is no longer there, and while the Titans' O-line has struggled, Johnson hasn't produced as many big plays. From 2010 to 2011, Johnson gained 20+ yards on a single play 29 times. In 2012 and 2013, he gained 20+ yards just 18 times. He'll be fantasy relevant in 2014, but his days of 18+ touches per game are probably over.
Chris Johnson's contract that calls for him to earn $8 million in salary this year clearly has been an obstacle to him staying in Tennessee. But even if the contract wasn't an issue the Titans probably would want to purge Johnson. The reason? New coach Ken Whisenhunt likes to spread around playing time and touches between multiple running backs. His plan is to have a running back by committee. Johnson is the type of player who demands the football and never would be happy as a role player. A trade or release, subsequently, is coming.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 8:20pm
Monday, March 31, 2014, 9:05am