Chris Ivory - who a month ago was proclaimed as "the best running back in the NFL" - rushed for 26 yards on 23 carries. I'm not sure the futility of the Jets' running game can be conveyed any more concisely than that. Needless to say, I'm going to try though.
Since the Washington game, in which he was rested for the last 13 minutes with 146 yards already in the bank, Ivory has rushed for just 84 yards in three games, on 55 carries. That's barely a yard and a half per carry - for a guy who averages three times that over the course of his career. In the past two games, he's gained just 43 yards on 38 carries. On Sunday, he had runs of nine, six, four and four yards, with the last three of those in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, he had 19 other carries, all of which gained two yards or less. He's not had a single 10-yard run since that Washington game and has gone from averaging 5.5 yards per carry at that time (3rd in the NFL for anyone with 50 or more carries) to under four yards per carry for the first time in his career.
I don't want to pile on - because we've seen enough of that over the last month - but the numbers are pretty shocking. However you slice it, Ivory's season has been stopped in its tracks along with most of his carries over the last month. How much of this is down to the run blocking and how much is down to himself perhaps being hurt or underperforming for some other reason, though?
One shocking statistic that presents evidence for the run blocking being at fault is that Ivory's 23 carries generated minus-two yards before contact. In other words, he was basically getting hit at the line every time, which anyone who saw the game would confirm is accurate. Last week was a similar deal - minus-one yard on 15 carries. Against New England was slightly better but still less than a yard per carry. Prior to that, it was 2.3 yards per carry for the season though.
Is that all down to the line though? On plenty of plays early in the season, the offense would open up a crease and Ivory's burst would get him cleanly to the second level. That burst simply hasn't been there since he pulled up lame on the first carry in New England. Even in this game, Ivory had plenty of one-on-ones arising out of imperfectly blocked plays, the kind of opportunities he regularly turned into big yardage over the first month or so, but ended up getting tackled in the open field.
What is confounding is the fact that Ivory got 23 carries and Zac Stacy just got one, while for the second week in a row, an active Stevan Ridley remained rooted to the bench. Could these guys not have emulated Ivory's one yard per carry? Was it really a great idea to keep pounding an obviously-not-100% Ivory into the line with another game coming up on Thursday? It nearly backfired in a big way when he fumbled near midfield late in the game.
If you had Ivory in your fantasy team, you perhaps were happy because he did score twice on one yard runs. He set up each of these with his two best plays of the day, a nine yard run bounced outside and a 16 yard catch and run on a screen pass. He also gained 11 on a 2nd and long dump-off. Those plays showed that once he gets out of first gear, he can still generate a bit of burst and power. It just never seemed to happen for him.
Stacy did pick up a first down on a dump-off pass down the middle. His one carry netted him three yards which, in the context of what was happening to Ivory, should perhaps have led to him getting more looks. Maybe they're simply saving him and Ridley (and perhaps Bilal Powell) for Thursday so that Ivory can get two weeks off.
At fullback, Tommy Bohanon did a good job on Ivory's first touchdown run and had a pretty consistent day as a blocker, especially in the second half. Obviously this did not generate much in the way of yardage though and he did get blown up on one late play.
Next up…With no running game, the receivers had to step up, even some unexpected sources…