BGA: Scouting Mike Goodson

Bent , TheJetsBlog.com

Free agency is underway and the Jets have already signed a few guys that Jets fans might not know too much about. Over the next week or so (and throughout the free agent signing window), I’ll be taking a closer look at each of the new signings and trying to assess what they can bring to the table for the Jets in 2013.

In case you missed it, I looked at Antonio Garay two days ago and Antwan Barnes yesterday. Today we move on to RB Mike Goodson.

Goodson is only 25 and stands 6-0 tall, weighing in at 212 pounds. He was a fourth round draft pick out of Texas A&M and established himself as a solid third-down back with Carolina before moving on to the Raiders last season. He’s been backed up some good players in his first four seasons, so this might be his best chance to make a name for himself with Shonn Greene’s departure leaving a void in the Jets running back rotation. Goodson signed a three-year deal worth a possible $6.9m but only about half of that money is guaranteed and his cap hit this year is just $1.4m.

After the jump, I’ll be reviewing his career so far and looking in detail at how well he performed last season, before considering what he could provide the Jets with this year and going forward.

Who is Mike Goodson?

Goodson had a good college career at Texas A&M, where he split carries with 300-pounder Jorvorskie Lane. He was on the board when the Jets picked Greene in the third round of the 2009 draft, but eventually lasted until the fourth round where the Carolina Panthers picked him up. He didn’t get many opportunities behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart at first, seeing action on just 50 snaps as a rookie and also contributing on special teams. However, in 2010, an injury to Williams afforded him the opportunity for some regular playing time and he responded well, gaining over 750 yards from scrimmage with 40 catches and a 4.3 yards per carry average. He also led the team in rushing touchdowns with three and peaked with two consecutive 100-yard rushing games in the middle of the year. Despite his solid 2010 performance, 2011 was a major letdown as he struggled to stay healthy and barely got on the field on offense before going onto injured reserve with a hamstring issue in November.

After the 2011 season, he was traded to Oakland for Bruce Campbell and backed up Darren McFadden. When McFadden inevitably got injured in week nine, Goodson was ready to step in, only to suffer a high ankle sprain that would keep him out for five weeks too. Still, Goodson did make some good contributions, catching 16 passes and rushing for 221 yards at an average of 6.3 yards per carry.

Let’s look at his numbers, then review his 2012 season in depth, before looking at what he brings to the table.

The Numbers

Four seasons
40 games
Three starts, all in 2010
160 carries, 722 yards, three touchdowns (4.5 ypc)
59 catches, 524 yards, one touchdown
82% catch rate, eight drops (seven in 2010)
Seven career fumbles (none since 2010)
44 broken tackles, including 15 as a receiver
91 kick returns for 21.9 yards per return
Four special teams tackles, one missed tackle
Two special teams penalties
One offensive penalty committed
Eight 20+ yard plays (five as a receiver)
Four 40+ yard plays (one as a receiver)
Three sacks, two hits and three pressures surrendered in 100 pass block snaps

2012 Season

Week 1 – v San Diego

Goodson – who suffered a scary neck injury in preseason – was only on the field for three snaps, carrying twice for 13 yards. 11 of those yards came on a draw play on 2nd and 35 as he showed good burst to cut through a big hole.

Week 2 – at Miami

Goodson made an early impact with this 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He was completely untouched thanks to good blocking, but it gives you an idea of his breakaway speed. Goodson had two other catches – an 11-yarder on a checkdown where he slipped a tackle underneath and an 8-yarder on a screen pass. His only carry of the day saw him make an ill-advised attempt to bounce the ball outside and he lost six yards. He also had a couple of ineffective cut blocks in pass protection and was bullrushed into Carson Palmer on one play – although later on, he did anchor himself much better to handle a bullrush well.

Week 3 – v Pittsburgh

Again, Goodson was only on the field for three snaps in this one. His only “carry” was a pass out to the flat that was so far behind him it was ruled a lateral. Goodson failed to make it to the marker on 3rd and three. On special teams, he had a career-best 51 yard kickoff return, racing across the field and then following his blockers down the sideline. He should have recovered a surprise onside kick late in the game, but failed to do so.

Week 4 – at Denver

Goodson rushed for 22 yards on three carries here, but his three catches lost yardage overall. He picked up eight on a run with a good burst and then 13 on a draw play as he slipped a tackle at the second level, but his other carry was the most exciting. On 3rd and two from their own 12, the Raiders threw a lateral to Goodson in the left flat, but he was swarmed upon by several defenders. He reversed his field and went all the way back to his goal line, eluding several tackle attempts before stiff-arming a defender at the marker. He was awarded the first down, but the replay booth ruled that he had stepped out of bounds one yard short. Goodson also caught three passes, but two went for no gain and another went for a five yard loss as he couldn’t avoid the first defender. There was one play-action pass where he gave up a pressure because he was unable to get into position to block a defensive back blitzing off the edge.

Week 6 – at Atlanta

Goodson was productive in this game, with 113 all-purpose yards, including 96 from scrimmage. He gained 59 yards on four carries, 43 of them coming on one play where he burst through a big hole and broke tackles at the second level and downfield. He did have one other good downhill run for six yards. His only catch saw him gain 37 on this play. He also bounced a run outside and broke a tackle for 14 and caught an easy screen pass for nine, but these two plays were negated by penalties.

Week 7 – v Jacksonville

Despite his good performance in week six, Goodson was only on the field for seven snaps this week, catching a six-yard swing pass for his only touch. He did return four kickoffs though, with his best runback going for 45 yards, as he made a good cut to bounce to the outside and embarrassed the kicker in the open field before running out of room.

Week 8 – at Kansas City

Again, he didn’t play much this week with just six offensive snaps and two kick returns. He cut back and broke two tackles on a dynamic 21-yard run, but his three other carries only accumulated one yard in total.

Week 9 – at Tampa Bay

Goodson got plenty of playing time this week, after Darren McFadden went down with an early injury. Unfortunately, Goodson then injured himself too. He only carried the ball twice, getting stuffed both times, but did catch six passes for 52 yards, all of them on dump-offs underneath or in the flat and four of them going for first down yardage.

Week 14 – v Denver

Goodson made his return five weeks later, but did not play on offense. He returned two kickoffs for 34 yards.

Week 15 – v Kansas City

This was Goodson’s most productive offensive performance of the year, as he gained 89 yards on 13 carries and caught a 14-yard pass. Almost half of the rushing yards came on this spectacular run. He would have had over 100 yards, but he had a 12 yard run to the outside negated by a hold. He had three good cutback runs for eight, 11 and nine yards respectively, dragging a defensive back for extra yardage on one. There was one play where he caught a toss on the left side and hesitated momentarily so was swarmed upon for a big loss. The 14-yard catch saw him catch the ball in the flat on the outside and then cut back to the middle.

Week 16 – at Carolina

In this game, he was held to 12 yards on four carries. That included a play on 2nd and three where he danced a bit in the backfield and only got back to the line of scrimmage. He did make one good play as a receiver, cutting to the inside to convert a third and four play over the middle.

Week 17 – at San Diego

Goodson had a 17-yard kickoff return to open the game and bounced a nine yard run off the edge with his only carry. He then sparked a brawl between both sets of players and ended up getting himself (and Takeo Spikes) ejected after just four snaps, ending his season prematurely.

Conclusions

Let’s summarize my observations into categories:

Usage - Goodson saw action both in third down situations, often as a pass blocker, as well as rotating in for a series at a time here and there. He lined up wide or in the slot a few times, but didn’t make any kind of impact when he did.

Running Ability – What Goodson brings to the table is quickness and elusiveness. He doesn’t run with great power, but usually does a good job of hitting the hole with a good burst. His vision is pretty good and there were only a few examples of him being indecisive or dancing around in the backfield. PFF rated him as the most elusive running back in the NFL in 2012 with at least 50 touches (based on tackles broken and yards after contact). With the bigger sample size in 2010, he ranked 6th.

Where Goodson will really help the Jets is downfield and at the second level. His ability to avoid tackles there (as shown on some of the clips linked to above) will be a boost to a team whose running game was highly ranked overall, despite being only 24th in second level yardage and 29th in open field yardage per Football Outsiders.

Pass Protection – Goodson’s pass protection numbers are okay but not great and there were some signs of weakness in that area. He doesn’t always anchor himself too well, so can be susceptible to a bullrush. Also, while he can execute a cut block well, there were a few examples of him not making the block well enough so his man was still able to get after the quarterback. He does seem to have improved since 2010 though (when he gave up three sacks) and looked more comfortable in 2012 as the season went on. I’d give him credit for recognizing and picking up the blitz well most of the time. The only time he didn’t do this was off a playfake where he didn’t have much chance of selling the run effectively and still blocking the defensive back coming off the edge, but even on this occasion he saw the rush coming and at least made an effort to get out there and slow the blitzer.

Receiving Threat - In the passing game, almost every single one of his 59 career receptions was either a swing pass, a designed screen to the flat or a dump off underneath. The only exceptions to this were the one play where he ran an inside route to convert on 3rd and four and another in 2010 where his quarterback was scrambling so he ran down the sideline and made a low, diving catch for 15 yards. Obviously once he has the ball, his elusiveness is a factor.

Hands - Goodson’s hands were a bit of a concern after 2010. Although he had 40 catches, he also dropped seven passes. He also had a drop on just three targets in 2011, but in 2012 he seemed to have fixed this, catching all 16 of the passes thrown his way. Other than the diving catch mentioned above, many of these were routine catches, although he did have to adjust to make the catch in the flat on several balls thrown either behind him, or slightly too far out in front.

Fumbles – Fumbles are a major concern, as he not only has seven fumbles in his four seasons – six of them in 2010 – but has also fumbled seven times in preseason and muffed three kickoffs that were not counted as fumbles in 2010.

Of those six in 2010, actually only three came while rushing the ball. One was a wildcat snap almost over his head and two were on kickoffs (one as the ball literally just slipped out of his grasp before he was even tackled). Of the other three, one came as his was hit at the line of scrimmage and the other two saw him make a nice run only to have the ball stripped from behind. He lost four of the six. Ironically, 2010 was the only preseason campaign in which he did not fumble. In every other preseason, he’s had at least two fumbles and then seems to have made the adjustment once the season started (albeit with not as big of a sample size in any of those years as in 2010). Perhaps we should be concerned if he doesn’t fumble in preseason.

In 2012, he did not fumble in 98 touches, although there was one play where he probably should have recovered a surprise onside kick against the Steelers, only to let the ball go through his hands. You will note from some of the plays linked to above that he was protecting the ball as he was tackled from behind which was how a couple of his fumbles in 2010 occurred.

Special Teams – Goodson has proven himself to be a reasonably good kick returner over the course of his career, improving his average in each of his seasons, with a career-best 23.4 yards per return average in 2012. He’s never run one back for a touchdown in the regular season, but this play from 2010′s preseason shows what he is capable of. Goodson has also played on coverage units, but only has a couple of tackles and hasn’t made much of an impact there.

Instincts – As noted, Goodson seems to make good reads, both as a runner and a pass blocker and has a good feel for avoiding contact. There was one play where he arguably displayed poor instincts, catching a pass that had been tipped into the air for a big loss when he probably should have batted it down.

Attitude – Goodson is another excitable and driven player, but has courted controversy in the past. He was fined as a rookie for making a throat slash gesture to Giants fans in preseason and the ejection in the last game of 2012 was another incident where he lost his cool.

Conclusions

There’s no question Goodson is a dynamic runner and has a skill-set that could make him productive in a lead back or 3rd-down specialist role. While there are areas where he could be better – pass protection, fumbles, hands, kick return average – he made improvements in every single one of these areas in 2012, so there is reason for optimism that he’s going to be a lot more reliable.

Whether some of these issues return to plague him once he earns much more playing time remains to be seen, but it’s a good sign that he seems to have worked at his weaknesses. If he can stay healthy, Goodson does possess a big-play ability that the Jets haven’t really had since Leon Washington left and this is another low-risk deal that will give him every chance to capture that role.