Perception can often be reality. While the two words have completely different meanings, they parallel one another.
Perception is not real, it’s how people perceive or think of things. Although if enough people perceive something a certain way it can become a reality.
The New York Jets running back room seems pretty weak according to popular opinion.
Tevin Coleman is the leader of the clubhouse with more than six years of professional experience. Despite his knowledge of the system, Coleman’s bugaboo has been his inability to stay healthy. The veteran has never started a full 16-game slate in his career.
While the other five running backs on the roster for the Jets are all day three selections or undrafted pickups.
Perception says this is one of the worst backfields in the entire NFL. While perception can often become reality, it doesn’t have to be.
This group lacks proven stars, but there’s one player that has really separated himself from the pack and could be a diamond in the rough that breaks through in 2021.
Ty Johnson Is the Man to Circle on the Roster Sheet
Ty Johson first entered the league out of Maryland as a sixth-round draft choice (No. 186 overall) back in 2019.
After holding a Detroit Lions clipboard for the first two years of his career, Johnson was released. The 23-year old lasted all of 24 hours before Gang Green quickly scooped him up off of waivers.
While Adam Gase proved to be a total buffoon and a horrible offensive mind during his tenure with the Jets, Johnson rose above all that.
Despite limited opportunities, the former Terp made chicken salad out of chicken s***.
In Week 13 vs the Las Vegas Raiders, Johnson toted the rock 22 times and surpassed the 100-yard barrier, and punched in his first (and only) rushing touchdown of the 2020 season.
That raised a few eyebrows including those of general manager Joe Douglas. When the team hit the reset button this offseason which featured a new head coach (Robert Saleh) and a brand new offensive system led by offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, they kept a close eye on Johnson.
TJ Will Have a Big Role in 2021
At the conclusion of Jets’ OTAs and minicamp, Johnson was among the names that created the most buzz.
Rich Cimini of ESPN said, Johnson “is still very much in the team’s plans” despite what the perception may be outside of the organization. The former Maryland product made a “strong impression” during the mix of voluntary and mandatory workouts this offseason.
Coleman will be the top dog in the backfield initially based on prior experience in the system and his overall track record. Michael Carter a rookie fourth-rounder out of North Carolina is destined for big things with his unique combination of horsepower and soft hands.
Despite the bigger names and pedigrees in the backfield, Johnson is the ultimate sleeper. He brings explosiveness, the ability to create big chunk plays, and speed for days.
All of those skills make him an ideal fit in LaFleur’s system. Johnson’s tremendous vision and nose for the correct lane really stand out on film. He had that during his time in college and he’s only gotten better at it at the NFL level.
Johnson may not be the lead running back Week 1 vs the Carolina Panthers, but he’s going to continue to steal reps on a week-to-week basis based on his ability and fit in this scheme.