How do you know your favorite team’s off season is going poorly?
- Your number crunching GM who has little experience evaluating talent is fired and replaced with…a number crunching GM who has little experience evaluating talent.
- John Idzik, the Jet’s newest man in charge, makes his first order of business to alienate the best player in the history of the franchise.
- The Quarterback position, arguably the worst in football last season, is addressed with the signing of a 35 year old who’s been out of the league for two years.
- With about a month to go before the draft, you only have five defensive players under contract who started a game for you last year (and one of them is almost certainly on his way out).
Trying Moving Forward
As I’m sure you can tell, the lack wit Jets fan with the (awesome) Tecmo Bowl avatar is none other than yours truly, and yes I should probably have my fantasy expert license revoked for confusing the Jets new running back with the head coach of the New York Knicks. While I have to admit that my inability to get the guy’s name right is probably an indictment of the signing, I am standing by the sentiment of that tweet.
The Mike Goodson signing was a great one for the Jets, and fantasy owners need to take note. I’ll even go so far as to say that we could be looking at one of the best bargains of 2013 Free agency. Mike Goodson can be every bit as good running the ball for the Jets as Mike Woodson is at having an immaculately groomed goatee. Allow me to make the case…
For starters, we shouldn’t let the fact that Goodson is a career back-up fool us into thinking that he’s just some replacement level scrub. When he’s gotten the opportunity to play, he’s excelled.
Mike Goodson 2010’s Stats
*Bonus Stat: Goodson has only one other game since 2010 in which he has carries the ball 10+ times. In that game (Week 15 of last year) Mike Goodson averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
The chart above shows game logs from 2010, when Goodson was a member of the Carolina Panthers, and both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart went down with injuries (Stewart was actually back for that week 12 game in which Goodson did most of his damage through the air – hold that thought). Since that brief cameo as a starter, Goodson quickly faded back into obscurity. Although he had proven himself as a big play threat out of the backfield, there was no way Carolina could justify playing him over their first round draft picks from 2006 (Williams) and 2008 (Stewart).
2011 was a washout for Goodson, as he suffered a hamstring injury that would limit him to only a single game and zero rushing attempts. Last season, he was buried behind another talented starter, playing caddy to Darren McFadden on the Oakland Raiders.
When McFadden inevitably suffered a multi-game injury in Week 10 last year, Goodson improbably managed to suffer the exact same injury (high ankle sprain) in the exact same game, ruining his opportunity to run with NFL starters again. That does not mean however, that there weren’t some positive takeaways from Goodson’s tenure in Oakland. Here’s three notes that I think matter…a lot.
- Goodson averaged 6.3 YPC running behind Oakland’s freshly implemented zone blocking scheme. That would be the same scheme that destroyed Darren McFadden’s season (DMC ran for a Raiders all-time low 3.3 YPC), the same scheme that was blamed for Oakland’s putrid 29th ranked run blocking (per Football Outsiders), and the same scheme Goodson has played in during his entire pro career.
- 64, 43, 43, 37. Those were Goodson’s yardage totals on his four longest plays from scrimmage, proving without question that he is capable of ripping off “chunk” plays (runs of 20 yards or more) that the Jets sorely lacked in their running game last season.
- He did damage as a receiver out of the backfield, catching all 16 of his targets, good for 12.2 Y/R.
Why should it matter that Goodson has shown the ability to break huge plays behind zone blocking?
Marty Mornhinweg has stepped through the Jets’ revolving door at offensive coordinator, and will be taking over play calling duties this season. Mornhinweg, the long time Philadelphia Eagles OC, is a disciple of the West Coast Offense, a traditionally pass happy system. However, Mornhinweg’s version of the West Coast is a little bit different than most. He’s much more willing to involve the running game in his offense, and while he utilizes several different types of running schemes, the zone is his favorite.
Mornhinweg’s history as an OC is littered with quick, athletic running backs in Goodson’s mold that have put up huge fantasy seasons behind the ZBS – names like LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook, Charlie Garner, and Garrison Hearst. It’s Mornhinweg’s ability to find creative ways to get the ball to his backs in space that makes them so dangerous within the confines of his offense. Eagles fans will no doubt recall McCoy running untouched for 10 or 15 yards at a time on plenty of sprint draws and misdirection runs out of split sets.
Mornhinweg also utilizes the passing game to create open space for his backs, placing a particular emphasis on screens, which will play to Goodson’s strengths as a receiver. McCoy has a 78 reception season on his resume, while Westbrook eclipsed 60 receptions 4 times under Mornhinweg, topping out at 90 on a whopping 120 targets as recently as 2007.
It goes without saying that if Goodson is going to become Mornhinweg’s next backfield success story, he’ll to have to claim the lion’s share of the New York Jets backfield touches. While his projected workload is admittedly a question mark, Goodson at least has one important factor going for him – he’s not Bilal Powell. That is to say he’s not just a depth chart back that the Jets new offensive brain trust inherited. They went out and hand picked Goodson (granted they couldn’t afford much else with their salary cap in a state of disarray). While they could end up using an early pick in April’s draft on a RB, the Jets have so many holes to fill at key positions on both sides of the ball that I’d be mildly surprised if they go in that direction.
[pullquote align=”left”]Goodson is a guy I’ve had my eyes on for a long time. He is fast, he is quick, he can catch, and he’s a great athlete –Anthony Lynn Jets RB Coach[/pullquote]
You can also cross the Jets offensive line off the list of worries when it comes to Goodson. The Jets may have been lousy at damn near everything else last season, but their o-line was an elite run blocking unit. Pro Football Focus ranked only the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers offensive lines ahead of the Jets in their run blocking ranks. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a top 10 tackle in the league, Nick Mangold is arguably the NFL’s best run blocking center, and Austin Howard held his own at RT last year. GM John Idzik brought in former Steeler Willie Colon on the cheap, likely to take over Right Guard duties from Brandon Moore. If healthy, Colon is a Pro Bowl caliber talent (PFF ranked him as the 15th best run blocking guard last season), making it safe to once again pencil the Jets in as one of the best run blocking lines in the game.
Fantasy Pros 2013 Consensus Rankings currently list Goodson as the 44th ranked running back. That puts him one spot behind his own presumed back-up, Bilal Powell and one spot ahead of Bernard Pierce, who will enter the season as the clear back-up to Ray Rice in Baltimore. Obviously we’re not drafting today, but that price tag holds enormous profit potential for fantasy owners. Goodson is a skilled back with a proven track record of big play ability. He has experience in the Jets new offensive scheme, and the skill set to thrive in it. The Jets coaching staff sought him out in free agency, and he’s running behind one of the best run blocking o-lines in football. I’ll give you that I glossed over a sketchy injury history, but this is the NFL – every player is at risk to miss time. If the Jets head into training camp without making any more roster moves at RB, I think we’ll see Goodson’s ADP rise to low end RB2 range by draft season (Vick Ballard territory). Even at that price, I still say there’s a strong possibility he returns value. And if Goodson flops, the Jets can throw Mike Woodson in the backfield for all I care – there’s no way he’d be any worse than Shonne Greene.
**Check back for Gridiron Experts Spring Fantasy Player Rankings, let’s see where Jody Smith (FantasyPros.com’s 2012 champ) ranks Mike Goodson, Powell, and of course Caption Butt Fumble.