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Brandon Marshall: Chris Ivory best back in the NFL

Brandon Marshall says Chris Ivory is the best running back in the NFL

FLORHAM PARK: For the last couple of months, Jets receiver Brandon Marshall hasn't been one to hide his overwhelming affection for the team's running back, Chris Ivory

In fact, just about any chance the big-play wideout has had to speak glowingly about New York's big-bodied back, he's taken. Over and over again, Marshall's eyes have lit up as praise and compliments rampantly flew from his ear-to-ear grinning mouth. Most recently, on Sept. 17, Marshall said Ivory was one of the "best running backs in the business." Now a month later, it appears as if the back's gotten a promotion. 

"He's already the best running back in the league," Marshall said Wednesday. 

And why?

"Watch the tape." 

If anyone is qualified to judge the quality of a running back, it may be Marshall. The former fourth-round pick, who's caught 803 passes for 10,171 yards and 68 touchdowns during his 10-year NFL career, has been around some top-notch runners over the years. As a member of the Miami Dolphins, Marshall spent time with former All-Pro Ricky Williams, who compiled 10,000 career rushing yards. When Marshall was with the Chicago Bears, the team's back was Matt Forte, a two-time Pro Bowler with 8,142 career rushing yards and 42 touchdowns. 

While Williams last played in the NFL in 2011, Forte still suits up for the Bears and is considered, along with the likes of Adrian PetersonLe'Veon BellJamaal Charles and more, one of the better in the NFL.

Ivory has never rushed for more than 833 yards in any of his five previous NFL seasons. So why does Marshall think he deserves to be placed atop the list of every other back in the league?

"Speed, quickness, agility, vision, endurance," Marshall said. "He has it all. 

"He runs really violently. He has a great feet. He's humble. He doesn't even know how good he can be. That's the scary part."

Marshall said when he first arrived in Florham Park, he sat down and had a conversation with Ivory. The back told him he just wanted to "have 1,000 yards," which took Marshall back. The receiver told him 1,000 wasn't what Ivory should be shooting for, but 1,500. Marshall chuckled thinking of Ivory's response to Marshall's goal-setting. But now? 

"Now he's there," Marshall said. "Now he sees it." 

This season, Ivory has rushed for 314 yards and a touchdown, and is averaging an NFL-best 104.7 yards per game on the ground. After being relatively unknown by many outside of the Jets locker room, Ivory is beginning to turn heads. The NFL is taking notice, and Ivory's teammates, led by Marshall, are giving others the, "See, told-ya-so," look.

In the Jets first four games, teams have been stacking the box with an extra defender to slow Ivory down. It just hasn't been working. The last time New York took the field against the Miami Dolphins, a game that ended in a 27-14 Jets victory, Ivory totaled a career-high 166 yards on the ground. 

110 of those yards came after contact. 

While many see Marshall's assertion that Ivory's the best in the NFL as a bit strong, the wideout is sticking to his guns. The way Marshall sees it, by the end of the year, all will figure out what he already knows. 

'It doesn't matter what's happened in the past, the market, who knows who," Marshall said. "This is (Ivory's) year."

***

Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for The Journal Inquirer and Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes), or via email (connor_j_hughes@yahoo.com)


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