Joe McKnight hasn’t exactly had the career he’s wanted in the National Football League. His rookie season was marred by the infamous vomiting episode in minicamp that was complimented by his struggles to hang onto the football during the preseason–prompting many to criticize him, often times beyond reason, a point I made two years ago.
After sitting in the doghouse for the majority of the year, McKnight was able to show off his abilities in a regular season finale against the Bills impressing with 158 yards. However, much like his current teammate Chris Ivory, McKnight remained buried on the depth chart and began to make his mark on special teams dazzling the NFL world with his kick return abilities. Still, McKnight is not satisfied and wants to show the Jets and Jets fans that he can be ‘the guy’ for them.
“Words can’t even describe how badly I want to be that guy,’’ McKnight told The Post during a break in offseason workouts last week at the team’s Florham Park, N.J., training facility. “I’ve got an edge — a fire to me … so I can show everybody that I can play.
“When I’m out there practicing it’s like I’m [ticked] off. I’ve got to play the game [ticked] off. That gives me the edge and keeps me on top of my game.’’
McKnight undoubtedly had his nose bent out of shape when the Jets acquired Goodson as a free agent and Ivory in a draft-day trade with New Orleans for a fourth-round pick. He surely saw those moves as the team not having confidence in him.
“I just felt like people are still doubting me, so it’s time for me to go out there and show ’em,’’ he said.
“I’m going to be a lot better,’’ he vowed. “I made that promise to myself. If not, I’m going to die trying. I’m nowhere near close to where I want to go.’’
McKnight revealed he never had a conversation with Tony Sparano, the Jets offensive coordinator last season before he was fired.
“I don’t know what Sparano thought of me because he never talked to me,’’ McKnight said. “I’m not going to let that happen again.’’
McKnight said he “loves’’ new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, with whom he shares the same agent.
Eric Weeks, TheJetsBlog.comJust a note I wanted to make before I dissect McKnight’s thoughts: Cannizzaro called it a four way competition at running back but, he did forget to mention John Griffin. I liken him to Matt Simms of the running backs. Everyone always counts him as the odd man out but at the end of the day, to paraphrase David Garrard, he’s still a professional.
In lieu of the quarterback competition, it’s easy to forget that everyone else at all positions, with the exception of a few, are fighting for their place on the roster. I’ve seen and heard people begin to question the Jets for using a fourth rounder on McKnight if he was only going to be a special teams mainstay and nothing more. I can’t say I necessarily disagree especially since his explosiveness could provide a much needed boost for the offense.
The fact that McKnight never had one conversation with Sparano is a bit alarming though that may speak more to Sparano’s tenuous tenure than McKnight himself and would certainly explain the bullishness of the Jets coaches in keeping McKnight on the low end of the totem pole.
Unfortunately for Joe, with the addition of Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson, the Jets now possess two running backs with great physical prowess and equal, if not better, explosiveness than himself. Throw in Bilal Powell who improved greatly last season and McKnight is seemingly the odd man out…again. Fortunately, John Idzik has preached the theme of competition from day one and I feel for the first time in his career, McKnight will have a real chance to change the perception of the coaches and show them he can be their man.
Based on his attitude and hunger, it certainly sounds like he’ll make the most of this opportunity.
Jordan, TheJetsBlog.comI’m really rooting for McKnight this season. I don’t think that he’s a real No. 1 running back, but he can still contribute in many ways. What I really like about this team is the depth we have at the position: Ivory, Powell, McKnight, and Goodson. I think he can really benefit from the depth on this team because he doesn’t have to be forced into a situation. I think McKnight can really excel in a west coast offense. Just pass the ball to him out of the backfield and let him have that open space. I can’t believe that McKnight and Sparano didn’t have any conversations last season–that just adds more fire to last season’s offensive debacle. Well, that’s in the past now (hopefully), and this season I think we will see good things from McKnight.