Earlier this week, Dan Patrick asked for the name of a team with worse skill-position players than the Jets.
I couldn’t give him one.
And here’s perhaps the best example of where the Jets currently are from a run-and-catch standpoint: A guy who couldn’t get onto the field in New Orleans may never leave it in New York.
As explained by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets hope that Chris Ivory will emerge as the team’s every-down back.
“I have real high expectations,” Ivory told Mehta. “Once I get out there, I’ll open some more eyes.”
In fairness to Ivory, he’s opened some eyes when he got onto the field in New Orleans. He just didn’t get onto the field very much, especially in the last two years.
After a 2010 rookie season that produced 716 yards in 12 games, Ivory’s appearances and chances diminished significantly. He appeared in 12 total games over the next two seasons, with fewer attempts and fewer total yards in 2011 and 2012 combined than he generated in 2010.
The reason for Ivory’s disappearance was obvious — in 2011, the Saints added Mark Ingram via the draft and Darren Sproles through free agency. Ivory fell behind Pierre Thomas, Sproles, and Ingram, and the Saints traded Ivory to the Jets during the offseason.
It doesn’t mean Ivory can’t play. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in three years with the Saints. But something caused him to land at fourth out of four in the pecking order in New Orleans.
“It’s not a challenge,” Ivory said of his ability to become the top option for the Jets. “I know I’m capable of it. Once I’m healthy, I know all those things will fall in place . . . and everybody will see the three-down back that I am.”
The part that is a challenge relates to whether he’ll be able to catch passes in the Jets’ new West Coast offense. Through three NFL seasons, Ivory has made only three total receptions. Ditto for pass blocking, where picking up blitzers requires intelligence, instincts, and experience.
Ivory will have a hard time honing those skills if he can’t practice at full speed. This week, he’s been limited by tightness in his hamstring.
And that would be the ultimate irony for Ivory. Largely ignored the last two years while healthy, Ivory finally has a chance to emerge, and he’s injured.