The New York Jets are 6-3 after their first nine games and on the other side of the Week 10 bye, they’ll begin something this fanbase has not witnessed in quite some time — a playoff push.
In order to make the postseason, it’s important that this team doesn’t lose its identity down the stretch. After the injury to Breece Hall, it felt like they might when offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur had Zach Wilson attempt 41 passes against the New England Patriots.
Wisely, the Jets reined things in against the Buffalo Bills, getting back to their game. That involved a heavy dosage of running back Michael Carter — as well as newcomer James Robinson — and the former is quickly gaining some attention around the league.
Former All-Pro Names Jets’ Michael Carter in RB Feature
The NFL.com column from ex-Jacksonville Jaguars star RB Maurice Jones-Drew highlighted several running backs that the former All-Pro believes are poised for a second-half breakout in 2022. Carter was the first name on the list.
“As a rookie in 2021, Carter led the Jets with 964 scrimmage yards,” MJD began. “Yet, while he was listed as the starter for the first five weeks of 2022, rookie Breece Hall emerged as a star in the Jets’ backfield.”
“A season-ending injury to Hall in Week 7 forced Carter back into the spotlight,” Jones-Drew continued. “The second-year pro has made the most of this development so far, averaging 6.1 yards per touch in Weeks 8 and 9 — including rushing for 76 yards and a TD on 12 carries in last week’s win over Buffalo — after recording 4.4 yards per touch in Weeks 1 through 7.”
The spike in production was huge for the Jets’ offense against the Bills, as Carter juked and weaved his way around defenders throughout the victory. The halfback also has the ability to spell Hall in the passing game, as an alert and experienced receiver out of the backfield.
“I don’t expect his impact to change moving forward,” Jones-Drew concluded. “In fact, because Carter fits nicely into Mike LaFleur’s zone system as a tough, versatile runner who’s an asset in both the run and pass games, he should become an even bigger focal point of the offense down the stretch. The opportunity’s there — he just needs to keep seizing it.”
Michael Carter Breaks PFF vs Buffalo Bills
Jets fans have a love-hate relationship with NFL grading site Pro Football Focus, but few will complain about their Week 9 evaluation of Carter.
PFF gave the NYJ ball carrier an 89.6 grade as a runner. Not only that, but they also credited Carter with eight missed tackles forced, three designed rushes over 15 yards, 6.08 yards after contact per attempt, and a breakaway run percentage of 75%.
Needless to say, those stats are incredible from an analytical perspective. It was easily Carter’s best game of the season (86 total yards, 6.3 per carry, one TD) and the only outing that was even close was all the way back in Week 1 (100 total yards but 40 as a receiver) — before Hall took over the backfield.
There’s an obvious correlation here and it’s also the silver lining for Jets fans. Carter can be the starting running back in this offense, he’s done it before.
Is Hall better? Yes, but his tremendous run as a rookie overshadowed a fact that most Jets fans already knew. Carter is a very promising playmaker with a bright future in this league.
Jones-Drew thinks he can step into the “Batman” role with Robinson as the new “Robin,” and it’s hard to argue that he’s wrong.