The Jets running back room got a little brighter this week with the addition of second-year running back Elijiah McGuire. The Louisiana-Lafayette product was removed from injured reserve and eligible to practice with the team this week. Whiile it will likely be a couple weeks before McGuire returns to the running back rotation, he can pose another viable option to spell Bilal Powell and hobbled Isaiah Crowell who is dealing with ankle problems.
The Jets have plenty of home run potential in the backfield and are in dire need of a brusing back ala Shonn Greene, Chris Ivory or Thomas Jones to get the hard fought yards between the tackles and gain first down in short yardage and goal to go situations. Unfortunately, McGuire isn’t that type of back, but giving him 5-7 carries per game while keep the other players fresh and the Jets can employ a running back by committee tactic to unleash their running game.
The past two weeks the offense has come alive and it’s no coincidence that the rushing game was a contributing factor. A rookie quarterback’s best friend is a solid running game, and while it’s unlikely that McGuire will play this week, but could be a candidate to get some burn against a stout Bears defense led by Khalil Mack in Week 8. McGuire was a pleasant surprise for the Jets last season as a rookie amassing 315 rushing yards on 88 attempts including a touchdown while he talied 177 receiving yards on 17 receptions including a touchdown.
The sixth round pick was a jack-of-all trades for Gang Green last season, yet ball security remains a top priority for him as he lost two fumbles in 2017. McGuire also won’t likely see the field in third down situations since he’s not shown an ability to block incoming pass-rushers and his slight frame and size make him the prototypical scatback. While the Jets will take all the help they can get with their top receiver Quincy Enunwa sidelined for at least a month, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates should find ingenious ways to incorprate as many weapons as possible into the offense.
New York’s dynamic rush attack could be a three-headed monster with explosive backs all over the place. Minnesota is among the most elite front seven’s the Jets will face this year and the last powerhouse defense the Jets went up against in Jacksonville in Week 4, they were not even able to eclipse 40 yards rushing. If the Jets learned a valuable lesson last Sunday against the Colts, it’s that it paid off for the team to stick with the running game in the second half despite it being largely ineffective in the first. New York’s will need to ride the hot hand against the Vikings and not get deterred if they get shutdown in the running game early.