At the beginning of the season the Jets running game was in full swing. The offensive line was clearing up rushing lanes and Chris Ivory was running by, and over, defenders. As the Jets continued to feed Ivory he started to get a little banged up and lost a little steam, the injuries to Nick Mangold also factored into the dip in production, but over the past few weeks Bilal Powell has provided a perfect balance with Ivory that has helped the offense, both running and passing, prosper.
Ivory, with his reckless style, is one of the most fun backs to watch run in this league. The way he throws his body into defenders as he bowls them over elicits pure joy amongst football fans, but at times he dances a bit too much and that reckless style will eventually begin to take it's toll after so many carries. The running game hasn't returned to it's early season form, not yet at least, but giving Powell more carries as a compliment to Ivory has been a huge boost to the running game. Powell has allowed the Jets to give Ivory a possession off here and there to keep Ivory's legs fresh at the end of games, but even more importantly Powell has been a huge help in the passing game.
All this time we've been wondering who could step up as the Jets third receiving option and over the past two weeks the answer has been Powell. Against the Giants Powell caught eight passes for 91 yards and a touchdown and against the Titans he hauled in five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown along with 36 rushing yards on three carries.
The Jets turned to Powell as an answer to the Giants pass rush, the offensive line couldn't stop the rush so the Jets went heavy on the screens and it worked. Against the Titans they used it again and there's no reason to think they won't keep using it until a defense proves they can stop it. And yet, as good as all that is, what really impresses the big boys upfront blocking for the running backs is Powell's pass protection.
"I've always been a big fan of BP," Nick Mangold. "He does a fantastic job for us, I think one of the biggest things that gets over looked is his protection skills. He's one of the best I've seen do it and then the way he's been able to get out of the backfield, catch or whether he can run the ball. Always been a big fan of his."
As an offensive lineman excellent pass protection is something Mangold can really appreciate. It's tough, gritty dirty work and it tends to go unnoticed a lot of the times (easy to see how offensive linemen can relate to that).
"Oh it's great, it's something that you don't get credit for but it helps out," Mangold said. "You love seeing that out of a running back."
Your average fan may not notice how often Powell saves Ryan Fitzpatrick from being sacked but if he keeps racking up the receiving yards and touchdowns those fans will all take notice.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)