“Counterparts to be counted on” is a 32-part series where we the “Front Office” of couchpotatogm.com analyze one offensive player and one defensive player on each team that MUST have a particularly strong individual season in 2015 for their respective teams to have a successful 2015 campaign. The ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl but a successful season doesn’t always result in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. No matter what “you” consider to be a success these counterparts are essential to achieving that goal.
New York Jets “Counterparts to be counted on” 2015
Chris Ivory – Geno Smith has a broken face, Ryan Fitzpatrick is who we thought he was and Bryce Petty isn’t ready yet. Second round speedster Devin Smith is injured, Brandon Marshall is getting long in the tooth, Eric Decker is a possession/#2 receiver at best, and Jace Amaro has yet to “bust” a grape. So where are the Jets to turn to on offense? Who will be the lynchpin to their attack. The “counterpart to be counted on” for the J.E.T.S. offense is non-other than Chris Ivory. The 27-year-old from Tiffin University has never been a featured back; whether it be with the New Orleans Saints or New York Jets, Ivory has always been a part of some type of timeshare or committee despite a career average of 4.7 yards per carry during his five-year career. Ivory possess the frame for a full workload at 6’0” 222 lbs., is a decent pass protector and despite being rarely used as a receiver out of the backfield (23 career receptions) offers something in the passing game. His blend of a slashing, punishing, north-and-south running style is a coach’s dream and behind an above average offensive line (in terms of run-blocking) he could serve as the engine to the Jets’ offense if given a full compliment of carries.
So what’s stopping Ivory from carrying the mail? I’m not sure. I expect the Jets’ defense to be formidable and you have several question marks in terms of your passing game. It’s time to ride Ivory and his yards after contact. Ivory’s 198 carries in 2014 were a career high which means there is a lot of tread left on the tires. Stevan Ridley is a talented ball-carrier but he’s hurt and not quite as complete as Ivory. Bilal Powell is….meh. And Zac Stacy is a poor man’s Ivory so there isn’t a back on this roster that should threaten his workload. I get it. There’s nothing sexy about Chris Ivory but he’s effective and with the type of defense the Jets will field in 2015 Chan Gailey had better call his number early and often if the Jets want to be successful. Feed him.
Antonio Cromartie – The Jets have an embarrassment of riches on the defensive side of the ball. They land perhaps the best player/safest pick heading into the draft, Leonard Williams, with the 6th overall pick. Muhammad Wilkerson is a stud, the suspended albeit incredibly talented Sheldon Richardson is still in the fold, David Harris is still patrolling the middle of the field and they signed Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie to play man-to-man coverage in new head coach, Todd Bowles’ attacking scheme. There is a lot to like about this group but it will be the play of Antonio Cromartie that may be the determining factor in terms of this defense being dominant or ‘just’ very good.
The 31-year-old Cromartie is coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2014 in Arizona where he played for then defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Challenged on a routine basis in the very same attacking/blitz happy defense opposite Patrick Peterson, Cromartie enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career. Expect more of the same as the opposition will likely target Cromartie at an even higher rate considering that he will (once again) be playing opposite Darrelle Revis. Never one for polished technique, Cromartie has made a healthy living on his size, range and impressive ball skills. There have been concerns regarding his play during training camp as he has been beaten repeatedly but the games that matter for the veteran corner don’t start until September. That in no way diminishes the necessity of his continued strong play. The Jets have invested $127 million between Revis, Skrine and Cromartie and will likely lead the league in blitz frequency which will put a ton of pressure on those defensive backs. Expect Antonio to have his fair share of defensive holding and pass interference calls against him but the Jets’ coaching staff will take that as long as he keeps the opponent out of the end-zone and makes his fair share of plays on the ball.