The former 2,000-yard rusher has averaged 290 touches per season during his first six seasons with the Tennessee Titans. But now that he’s in a timeshare with Ivory, his carries, and subsequently his production, are bound to take a step back.
According to the New York Daily News, Johnson could lose between 35-40 percent of his 279 total touches he had last season in Tennessee, giving the running back between 167-181 attempts. Johnson averaged 3.86 yards per attempt in 2013, which amounts to about somewhere between 700-800 yards for the coming season.
If true, it will mark the first time in Johnson’s career he would fail to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.
Ivory, on the other hand, will likely get the bulk of the in-between-the-tackles runs. In his first year leading the Jets backfield, Ivory tallied 833 yards on 182 carries, with a superior 4.6 yards per attempt average. He rushed for more than 100 yards three times, but averaged a hair under 56 yards per game.
Which back should be trusted more?
The Lions handed the younger Bell a three-year, $9.3 million extension to take the reigns of the backfield. Still, the team is expected to employ a 50-50 timeshare. It’s very, very possible the Jets exercise a similar type of system.
Johnson, who was just given a contract worth $4 million per season, will likely get the starting nod. It’s the most lucrative deal given to a running back this offseason, and the Jets will likely make Johnson earn his money. Johnson also has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, which gives him an edge over Ivory to play on third-downs. And despite being a smaller back, Johnson’s cut-then-run type of running style allows him to bust runs up the middle as well.
The edge has to go to Johnson, but it’s not overwhelming. Rex Ryan’s best ground-and-pound teams equally utilized two backs in pretty productive roles — I know, it’s been a while since we were reminded of those LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene backfield tandems — but that’s precisely what should be expected this year in New York.