Regardless of what the Jets have done this offseason to upgrade their running back position, Joe McKnight isn’t giving up very easily. After questions about his viability with the team this season arose after the signing of Mike Goodson, they became even more pronounced when the Jets traded for Chris Ivory, formerly of the Saints.
“I don’t care who they bring in,” McKnight told the Star-Ledger on Thursday. “They’re going to have to kill me to take my spot. So, whoever they bring in, I don’t care.”
It’s not about being mad, according to McKnight, it’s more about him wanting to leave it all on the field and prove doubters wrong. “I’m not angry at all. I’m just tired of people running their mouths like I’m not going to be here. I’m just going to make it a point to prove I’m going to be here.”
When asked about why he believes he will make the roster, McKnight indicated that the offense can support four backs, even with them all on the field at the same time because Morhinweg’s system is about getting the ball to the man in the open field — a classic West Coast sentiment. In practice, McKnight said that he has motioned out from the backfield into the slot receiver spot as well as seen a number of reverses. Those are the types of plays that suit a player like Joe McKnight much better than a plodding thumper between the tackles.
“All four are going to have our own package,” said McKnight. “Whatever package we’re going to be in — sometimes we might be on the field together — you never know. We know we’re going to have our own packages.”
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comThis is exactly the sort of environment that John Idzik has wanted to foster; there’s no talk of “bell cows” among the running backs this year. The three to four potential tailbacks who will make this roster will do so by merit, but it’s hard to imagine the Jets not having larger roles anticipated for Ivory and Goodson, just based on the investment they made to bring them in. That leaves one, maybe two tailback spots and McKnight likely squaring off for a spot against Bilal Powell. Including fullbacks, the Jets carried four on their initial 53 man roster in 2012, five in 2011, seven (granted they carried two fullbacks and both Chauncey Washington & Danny Woodhead were cut soon after) in 2010 and five in 2009.
So it’s not out of the question for them to carry five, they’ve done it a number of times, but then it comes down to the last tailback’s production versus players elsewhere on the roster.
Coming into the NFL there were questions about McKnight, but the one thing about him that I love is that he has really taken conditioning, and being prepared very seriously. He’s been a great returner for the Jets, but on offense — even amidst Shonn Greene’s fall from grace — McKnight was only allowed to carry the ball more than five times once in 2012.
With a light group of receivers, maybe McKnight has a point in using their running backs as receivers in the slot. But the re-introduction of Santonio Holmes at some point this summer might pour water over any four back formations. We’ll be the first to admit that we would see him as a bubble player, but we hope he proves us wrong this summer.