Head coach Todd Bowles turned to an old friend to help fill out his coaching staff when he hired former Arizona Cardinals assistant Stump Mitchell to be the Jets' new running backs coach on Wednesday.
Bowles and Mitchell worked together in 2013-14, when Bowles was the defensive coordinator on Bruce Arians' staff in Arizona. The 57-year-old Mitchell helped develop David Johnson into a dual-threat star in Arizona. He also had success earlier in his career as the Seattle running backs coach from 1999-2007, when he helped develop Shaun Alexander, and again In Washington (2008-09) with Clinton Portis.
Born Lyvonia Albert Mitchell -- he got his nickname because he was "tougher than a stump," according to the Jets' press release. He played nine seasons as a 5-9, 188-pound running back/returner with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals. He totaled 4,649 rushing yards, 1,955 receiving yards, and 5,384 return yards in 116 games. His 11,998 all-purpose yards is a Cardinals franchise record.
The Jets' running backs were actually a strength of the team last season, though at often times they seemed underused. The 31-year-old Matt Forte ran for 813 yards and caught 30 passes for 263 more in 14 games. And Bilal Powell, 28, ran for 722 yards on 131 carries (5.5 yards per rush) while catching 58 passes for 388 yards.
The two of them combined for 10 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns -- or exactly half of the Jets' offensive touchdown total.
Forte is entering the second year of his three-year, $12 million contract, and Powell is entering the second year of his three-year, $11.25 million contract, so both are expected back in 2017.