The Jets opened up this week with a two-back personnel grouping. Bilal Powell started off out wide on the right side with Chris Ivory initially in the backfield but then motioning out wide to the left as the Jets went empty. On the play, Brandon Marshall lined up in the slot and ran an out pattern and Ryan Fitzpatrick tried (but failed) to hit Powell over the top. He probably should have dumped it to Marshall who would have had an easy six or seven yards and a shot at getting to the marker.
Regardless, the two-back personnel grouping was something they used extensively over the course of the game with fullback Tommy Bohanon hardly getting any reps. This enabled them to exploit Powell's versatility and the fact that he's playing the best football of his career, perhaps benefiting from being fresh due to the time he missed because of injury earlier in the year. Whether lining him up wide or in the slot, or putting him in the backfield to pass protect, this personnel grouping gave the Jets plenty of options.
Whatever their plan was, it wasn't helped by Ivory suffering a first half leg injury. Ivory did return, but looked to have lost a step. Powell did step up in Ivory's absence and the Jets also got a boost from Stevan Ridley, who looked useful for just the second time all season while also seeing time with Powell in two-back sets. It's actually quite impressive that the Jets were able to be competitive with the Patriots twice, despite not having a fully-healthy Ivory in either game. They didn't have Powell or Ridley (or Quincy Enunwa or Kenbrell Thompkins) in the first one, either.
Powell would ultimately produce 90 yards on 12 touches, showing good burst and making some great cuts as a runner and after the catch. He might have had another touchdown but Fitzpatrick's third down pass was slightly behind him in the flat, although he was still able to pick up the first down and take it down inside the five. Powell was also used effectively as a decoy on one third down play where they set up a screen to him on the left side, but then when the defense shifted over, Fitzpatrick dropped it off underneath to Kenbrell Thompkins on the right side instead.
Powell did have one negative, fumbling on third down in the fourth quarter as he looked to get to the marker following a catch in the flat. While the ball bounced harmlessly out of bounds, it forced the Jets to punt. Ivory also lost a fumble out of bounds and nearly lost the ball as he was going down one other time.
Ivory did look sharp early on, with a 17-yard burst up the middle, but his other 14 touches netted just 25 yards, including four catches for just four yards. He was particularly indecisive on a dump-off to the flat where he lost five. Ivory needs just 11 yards next week to at last reach 1,000 yards for the first time ever.
Ridley's contributions were useful, as he gained 13 on one run and displayed some power on a short yardage conversion after having bounced the previous play to the outside for nine. Each of his first six carries gained positive yardage, but then his last carry - on a toss play out left - got stopped for a loss. Having entered the game with 25 yards on 20 carries on the season, Ridley gained 36 on seven carries, for a healthy average of 5.1 per carry.
Next up…Eric Decker was the hero in overtime, but it was another terrific Brandon Marshall performance that helped carry the Jets offense…