After winning the job of backup running back during training camp, New York Jets RB Bilal Powell has shown in the last two weeks he is not taking the opportunity for granted. In those games, against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 2 and the Miami Dolphins this past week, Powell has shown why the Jets staff is high on him as he outperformed starter Shonn Greene in both games. Powell rushed for 33 yards on 9 carries at Pittsburgh and 45 yards on 10 carries at Miami (along with 2 catches for 24 yards). Greene, the man above Powell on the depth chart, rushed for 23 yards on 11 carries at Pittsburgh and 40 yards on 19 carries at Miami (and 2 catches for 9 yards). In the preseason, stats like this can be taken with a grain of salt due to the fact that most times, the number one back (Greene) would be going up against the opposing team’s number one defense while the backup (Powell) would go against the number twos. However, this is the regular season and the backs are running against the same defenses behind the same offensive line. Bilal Powell is averaging 4 yards/carry. Shonn Greene is averaging a measly 2.75 yards/carry. Powell has also been valuable in pass protection and as a wide receiver. After Sunday’s game, the fantasy website Rotoworld seemed to think that Greene is on thin ice.
Powell’s box score stats probably don’t jump off the page, but it’s clear that the Jets are moving toward a timeshare in the backfield. Shonn Greene still led the way with 22 touches (for a pathetic 49 yards), but Powell was on the field in crucial situations, and not just passing downs. Powell is going to take Greene’s job. We just wouldn’t be optimistic about anything more than flex value.
Powell is also getting respect from the Jets’ coaching staff as well, as he served as a team captain for Sunday’s game. Louisville fans are all very aware just how valuable a back he can be, and when he slipped to the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft, fans knew the Jets got a steal. Perhaps it was because of his mediocre first three seasons at Louisville, his troubled high school days, or his senior year injury, but for some reason, Powell was passed up several times in the draft despite having a standout senior year. If he continues to play like he is, he is going to knock off Shonn Greene, get more carries and could be in for a very impressive NFL career. If anyone has trouble remembering how good he is, check the video below and get back to me.