When the Jets inked Le’Veon Bell to join the team, the consensus was that Gang Green may have just rejuvenated their offense. The team handed a big contract to a former All-Pro running back and expected him to contribute immediately. Now when you add that caliber of a talent to your team, you expect a certain level of production no matter what side of the ball.
Bell had 245 carries for 789 yards and 3 TDs. He also added 461 yards and a score on 66 receptions. Bell put up numbers that look impressive on paper and for other backs, but when looked at in the grand scheme of things. It was an abnormally abysmal year for him.
Looking at his numbers from Pittsburgh in contrast to his little over a season in the green and white, the drop off was eye-opening. With Pittsburgh, Bell had an average of 129.0 scrimmage yards per game in contrast to his 80.2 in New York. The other startling statistic was his 3.2 yards per attempt that stood as the lowest mark of his career. So, why did Bell have such a massive drop off in quality of play?
While the obvious culprit seemed to be Adam Gase.
You can make the case that the team failed to provide quality blockers for Gase, but Bell’s utilization was the biggest issue. Gase was adamant about this in his preseason pressers as he stated that one of his primary focuses of the offseason was on using Bell better. Bell received a high volume of reps, but they were not meaningful ones. With just 19 attempts this season for 74 yards, Bell had bumped his production up to 3.9 yards per attempt, but he had 3 receptions for 39 yards out of the backfield. Now, this was only in two games since he missed time with a shoulder injury, but one thing was different this year than last. Gase DID use Bell slightly more efficiently than last season, but the primary reason he was able to get those reps was because of how Gase used his 37-year-old back, Frank Gore.
It was obvious to even the casual observer that Gase and Bell had a tumultuous relationship, but it was only furthered based on Gore’s usage. Gore was used as the bell cow back in the offense while Bell was out and even given reps that would typically go to Bell when he returned. Here is the cold hard truth, Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell were never on the same page. The “innovative mind” failed to realize the talent he had in his hands and instead failed to adapt his playbook to his best players. Gase instead remained stubborn and set in his ways by continuing to overuse basic halfback dives and receiver screens. See, the poor utilization of Bell by Gase that led to the rift is the utter depiction of the incompetence that has plagued this organization.
Le’Veon Bell now joins the list of so many other talents who were wasted whilst with an “offensive genius.” Some of those players include Jarvis Landry, Robby Anderson, Kenyan Drake, Ryan Tannehill, and DeVante Parker. All have had rejuvenated careers WITHOUT Adam Gase. If the blind eye could see that is the issue, why can’t the ownership? The fact is the Jets thrive off of their own self-destruction and incompetence beyond just the gridiron. Bell moving on and having success would just be the latest feather in the cap of the embarrassment: the Adam Gase era and the organization as a whole.
The New York Jets have been without their former All-Star running back since week one of the season. In the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Bills, Bell seemed to have an awkward fall in the midst of running a route.
It ultimately ended up beinga hamstring injury that sent him to the IR. Now, before the Jets take on the Arizona Cardinals, Bell will be joining them.
What’s This Mean?
This is great news for the Jets organization for multiple reasons. The first that tomorrow marks the first start for Joe Flacco while Darnold sits with a shoulder injury, so adding a playmaker like Bell back into the fold could ease some of the pressure. Especially with a veteran quarterback who is coming off an injury himself, having Bell can open up things more for him.
The next reason this is so important, is because of the impact Bell has when healthy. Without Bell for the past few games, the Jets have accumulated only 263 yards on the ground from running backs.
Sam Darnold is currently the team’s leading rusher with 117 yards, while Frank Gore sits at 74 yards on 55 carries. It’s safe to say the Jets need a boost out of the backfield and Bell could provide that.
The last reason this is crucial is because of a potential trade. With Bell likely out the door after this season, the team could use the next two or so games as a showcase for what Bell can do. If he’s the key cog in the offense for the next couple of games, don’t be surprised because that may be an order from management. A trade of Bell could shed around eight million dollars of cap space for the organization and potentially nab a mid rounder. It may not be the route the team goes, but it’s certainly a possibility.
One thing is for sure though, the Jets need some kind of fire on offense right now. That’s a fire that Bell can bring. Who knows, his return may just make this offense competitive.
Conservative football stifled the New York Jets’ chances at a surprise victory in primetime, as they fell to Denver in an unusual thriller.
At certain points of Thursday night’s showdown with the Denver Broncos, the New York Jets resembled an NFL football team. But that wasn’t enough to steal a win in primetime.
A battle between two winless squads at MetLife Stadium somehow managed to be entertaining, but the Jets (0-4) fell short by a 37-28 final, the endgame of a topsy-turvy thriller that featured lead changes, mistakes, and hurt feelings.
ESM looks back on this latest defeat, highlighting a play from each quarter that doomed the Jets to their weeknight fate…
Darnold gained all but two yards on the Jets’ opening 75-yard drive after the first kickoff. Remarkably, only 16 of those yards were gained through the air. He gained a pair of first downs with his legs before breaking loose for the longest run by any quarterback so far this season. It also allowed Darnold to set his career-best in rushing, demolishing a 35-yard output posted in December 2018 against Houston.
Adam Gase quarterbacks have never been known for their scrambling, mostly relegated to a prescience in the pocket. If the Jets can allow Darnold to move around more, through plays like the rollout that has played out well in goal-to-go situations, it can help him develop much-needed confidence.
The handling of Mekhi Becton was one of the most curious developments of Thursday’s game. After enduring a shoulder injury on Sunday, Becton was deemed healthy enough to dress, but not to start. Chuma Edoga’s injury in the opening quarter, however, forced Becton to enter. He didn’t last much longer either, as he sat after the early stages of the second frame.
His last play was a scary one, as it was also Darnold’s first play back in after enduring his own shoulder injury. The ailing Becton was beaten by Bradley Chubb, who sacked Darnold on third down. At that point, the Jets really should’ve questioned the true value of leaving both men in the game. Sure, the morbid gift of consequence-free football at least allows you the idea of playing loose, but it should never, ever lead you to risk a player’s health. Darnold at least appeared to look unbothered by the situation. But the question can still be asked over whether it was worth it.
Frank Gore definitely has a purpose in New York. He’s a veteran who has had experience in rebuilding programs (primarily his earliest days with the 49ers) and can still earn the short-yardage first down as a spell option. But Gore is no longer at a level where he can the primary offensive threat. His carries were down to a mere 13 after averaging 19 over the last two weeks, but the continued insistence on using Gore is stunting the development of projects like La’Mical Perine and Kalen Ballage.
The Jets had a strong opportunity to take the lead in the early stages of the third quarter after a 38-yard pass interference penalty. After two short Gore runs, Darnold tried to find him on a wheel on third-and-four 14 yards from the end zone. The incompletion forced the Jets to go for a mere Sam Ficken field goal that sliced the lead to 17-16. An argument could be made over whether kicking was the right decision (we’ll get to that in a minute), but it could’ve been avoided entirely.
Sam Ficken drills his FIFTH field goal of the game and the Jets lead 28-27 🤩
Once again, the decision to kick was one that came back to haunt the Jets. Doing so down 24-3 during the San Francisco disaster was one thing. Pride was the only thing on the line and things got so pathetic that the Jets even denied themselves that. But this new instance might’ve played a role in this brutal defeat.
Down 27-25 and granted a generous spot on a crucial third-down at the edge of the Denver red zone…set up by Brian Poole’s interception…the Jets had an opportunity to think of a way to potentially earn the go-ahead score and force a struggling Denver offense to score a touchdown with relatively little time left on the clock while the Broncos threw the challenge flag.
Instead, cowardice might’ve cost the Jets the game. If the Jets opted to go for the necessary inches on fourth down with six minutes to go, they could’ve continued their trek to the end zone, forcing the struggling Rypien to go for a matching six-pointer. Even if you failed to convert the fourth down…how badly do you lose in the long run? The Jets played it safe and kicked…all the Broncos needed was for the reliable Brandon McManus to respond. Denver’s offense made it difficult on their own end, but they eventually secure the lead permanently. Everything else…the embarrassing Melvin Gordon clincher, the bad blood in the final seconds…could’ve been avoided if they had gone for it.
Ficken has proven reliable this season…he’s a perfect 8-for-8 on the season and he booted a 54-yarder on Thursday night…but alas, that doesn’t do the Jets any favors in the win column. A good kicker is vital on a team with a developing offense, but one could well argue if “developing” is the right way to describe the Jets at this point in time.
The New York Jets were utterly embarrassed this Sunday in Buffalo. The team looked poorly coached, poorly prepared, and not ready to face even the worst teams in this league. Heading into today’s game, there are there key factors that will decide whether or not the team starts the season at 1-1 or 0-2.
Take Advantage of Injuries
Today’s game will be a tough one for San Francisco. With George Kittle out for the game, the 49ers will revert to Jordan Reed as their starting tight end. For those that don’t remember, when he wasn’t battling concussions, Reed was a productive tight end in Washington. Still, he is no Greg Kittle. The Jets need to take advantage of the lack of weaponry that Jimmy G has and let them rely on the run. The Bills rushing attack, outside of Josh Allen, could not get going against the Jets front 7. Quite frankly, if the Jets can keep that offense at bay, this could be a close game.
As for the other side of the football, Richard Sherman is out, and that could also be a huge help. Without Sherman, the Jets will have an opportunity to face the 49ers backup corners, which ended well for Atlanta last year. Granted, the Jets have no Julio Jones, but they can have success like the Falcons had when Julio put up over 100 yards. The Jets receivers need to create space and make Darnold’s life a little easier in order to win today.
Run Gore To The Ground
I hate to say it, but in the few reps Gore had last week, he looked like the best running back on the field. The 37-year-old back is a workhorse, and I think him complimenting a healthy LaMical Perine could be a nice rushing attack until Lev Bell is back. The issue is, this is one of the best defensive lines in the game. Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas make up that talented group, and all four can be game wreckers. If Gore can continue the momentum he had in camp today, the Jets could pick up some yards on the ground against this tough defensive line; if not, it will be a long day.
The Jets’ biggest issue has fallen somewhat under the radar. The Jets could not tackle last Sunday. Consistently, the Jets were creating pressure in the backfield. Yet, they would get back there and fail to wrap up the receiver, quarterback, or rusher. This led to a long day of exploiting that poor play. The Jets need to come out with much better tackling today, or else the 49ers will run wild on this Jets team.
Frank Gore’s first chance in an expanded role with the New York Jets comes against original employers from the Bay Area.
September has been a delightful throwback to the late 2000s/early 2010s for Miami sports fans. The Heat are taking on the Boston Celtics in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Marlins are aiming for their first winning season since 2009. On Sunday, Hurricanes legend Frank Gore will partake in an NFL football game involving the San Francisco 49ers.
Gore isn’t donning San Francisco’s red and gold this time around, rather the green and white of the New York Jets (1 p.m. ET, Fox). The Jets’ 2020 MetLife Stadium debut comes against the team that hosted Gore’s heyday. After three seasons in Coral Gables, the Magic City native Gore entered the league as the 65th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He has gone from third-round pick to third all-time in rushing in the ensuing 15 seasons, standing at 15,371 yards entering Sunday. Only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726) remain ahead of him.
The first 11,073 of Gore’s yards came with the 49ers, while the most recent 24 came with the Jets (0-1) in their Week 1 loss to Buffalo. New York is the fourth stop Gore has made on his football tour since departing San Francisco after the 2014 campaign. This will be the second time that Gore faces the team that gave him NFL life, earning 86 yards as a member of the Colts in an October 2017 win.
If these truly are the final NFL days for the 37-year-old Gore, his career may be coming full circle in an undesirable fashion. Gore was a rare silver lining of consistency during the 49ers’ mid-2000s rebuild kickstarted by the departures of Terrell Owens, Garrison Hearst, and Jeff Garcia after the 2003 campaign. A streak of eight consecutive non-winning seasons went by a little faster thanks to Gore’s prowess. One such occasion was a 214-yard single-game output in just his second season, earned during a 20-14 win over Seattle in 2006.
San Francisco eventually got it together in 2011, upon the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Three consecutive playoff trips followed, all of which ended no earlier than the NFC title game. Nowadays, Gore has eschewed ring chasing for latching on to budding football projects. He previously worked with the late rebuild projects in Miami and Buffalo, making a playoff appearance in the latter. Now he’s working with a Jets squad that’s eager to make a trying season of transition move a little more smoothly.
So far, it appears the transition is going well.
“Everything that comes out of his mouth is kind of like wisdom,” fellow Jets rusher Le’Veon Bell said in training camp report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “”The fact that he’s been playing so long is because of his training and the things he does in the offseason.” He tells me, ‘You have the same trainer I have and you’re doing the same things I am, so you can do it, Le’Veon.’ That’s why I feel like I’m going in the right direction, and I feel like I’m doing the right things correctly because I’m hearing it from guys who have done it already.”
Gore was likely added for depth and inspiration, but the San Francisco reunion coincides with Gore taking on increased duties in the Jets’ offense. With Bell on short-term injured reserve (hamstring) with other offensive weapons and depth relatively short behind him (Josh Adams, newcomer Kalen Ballege, injured rookie La’Mical Perine), Gore will be likely be heavily relied upon when the Jets welcome in the defending NFC champions. San Francisco (0-1) allowed 180 yards on the ground in their narrow opening weekend loss to Arizona.
True to form, it’s a challenge Gore is ready to take. He was familiarity with Adam Gase’s offense during the 2018 season with Miami’s other football squad, the Dolphins. Gase and Gore also collaborated in 2008, when the former was an offensive assistant in the Bay Area.
“I know that’s a big load, Le’Veon not playing this week and being out for a couple weeks,” Gore said to team reporter Randy Lange. “But even when Le’Veon was here, I was always preparing like I was the guy just because you never know what happens. That’s why every day I go out on the practice field and prepare like I do.”
“He looks the same as he did 12 years ago,” Gase said in Cimini’s report. “I can’t explain it. It’s unbelievable how, when I watch him, I flash back to 2008. He looks the same. I don’t know how. It doesn’t make sense, but Frank has been one who refuses to listen to what anybody else says. He goes out there and he’s an old-school football player. He looks good. His burst looks good. His vision is never going to change. It’s going to be like that when he’s 60. Frank is special. There’s a reason why he’s third all-time in rushing yards.”
Having never earned more than 1,000 yards with the Hurricanes, it might be a little shocking to some to see Gore rank among the most illustrious rushers in NFL history. But Gore knows to cherish every moment, every play he has left….because he knows how it nearly never happened.
Gore partook in Miami’s legendary championship trek as a true freshman in 2001, backing up fellow future NFL back Clinton Portis en route to their Rose Bowl blowout over Nebraska. But prior to his sophomore campaign, a torn ACL ended affairs before they ever truly began.
After watching Miami return to the national title game (their controversial Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State) and his successor Willis McGahee break Coral Gables records left and right, Gore returned to the backfield in 2003…ironically sharing duties with the late Walter Payton’s son Jarrett (who made a name for himself in NFL Europe). Gore began his season with three straight triple-digit games in yardage (including 127 yards and the finishing touchdown in a 23-point comeback win over Florida). But another torn ACL ended his year early, along with, some felt, his football career entirely.
Instead, Gore returned to play a full 12-game season, featuring a collegiate-career-best 191 yards in an upset win over Virginia. San Francisco took him in the third-round that spring.
“Me going through all the injuries, and then when I get to the league just hearing all the negative stuff, I set my goals and said I’ll never let a man judge me,” Gore said of his injuries to Jim Trotter of NFL.com back in May. “The only man I’ll let judge me is that man up above. But I was determined to be the best in my class.”
Irony continues to reign in the fact that Gore’s new duties coincide with the 49ers’ visit. His former stomping grounds of Candlestick Park having been torn down, time will tell if Gore is able to visit Levi’s Stadium as a player, where fans of the ovaled SF can pay give him a proper send-off.
If such a reunion doesn’t come to pass, Gore has nonetheless ensured his career will end where it began. The rusher confirmed to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area that he and the team have an agreement in place that will allow him to retire as a member of the 49ers. His No. 21, one he currently bears with the Jets, will likely be retired alongside the San Francisco greats like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Ronnie Lott. Despite the Niners’ illustrious history, no rusher has earned red and gold immortality since High McElhenny and Joe Perry were invited in 1971.
“That’s the team that gave me the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do when I was a kid, play NFL ball,” Gore said in Maiocco’s report. “I was there for 10 great years. Been on bad teams and been on great teams. I love it out there.”
For now, though, the 49ers are only a challenger in Gore’s path. He may not be ring chasing from a traditional standpoint, but that doesn’t mean he’s not looking to earn a few wins on his potential way out.
“”I want to win, especially coming off a loss last week,” Gore said, per Lange. “I want us to look a lot better as an offensive team, and that’s doing whatever it takes to win.
“It could be the 49ers, it could be Seattle, whoever. I just want to get a win.”
As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each position group within the New York Jets‘ organization and grade each group. Today’s group is the running backs. Headlined by a thinner and motivated Le’Veon Bell, the ageless wonder that is Frank Gore, and the dynamic rookie in LaMical Perine. It’s a good group with a lot of potential, but how much can potential carry this group, let’s take a closer look.
RB 1: Le’Veon Bell
Without question, Lev Bell is the lead back for the 2020 campaign. Bell is determined to prove that last season’s poor performance was a fluke. He set a record for the lost YPC in franchise history, and I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with him. Bell is lighter than last year, has more quality linemen blocking for him and a coach taking accountability for his poor usage. Still, how much of that is fools gold. Bell is still struggling to keep frustrations quiet, and we know what happened last time a Jet did that. The offensive line could fail to gel and prove to hinder the offense early on. Most of all, Adam Gase may decide to take more of a committee approach and not give Bell the reps he truly deserves. I think Bell will be more improved this year, but I can’t say have I have the same confidence in Adam Gase to use him properly.
RB 2: Frank Gore
Fresh off another year of not looking like he’s slowing down. The 37-year-old running back is being counted on to play two roles this season. After jumping to #3 on the all-time rushing yard rankings, Frank Gore has continued to be an aggressive and productive back. He’ll be counted on to get meaningful reps early.
Gore is also being counted on as a leader and mentor to the younger backs in Perine and Bell. Gore is going to have his hands full trying to keep Bell quiet and still mentor Perine as a rusher. If anyone can do it, though, Gore can. Gore has been touted as one of the most impressive rushers in camp, and I’m genuinely excited to see his impact with the squad. I just hope Gase doesn’t overuse him in lieu of Bell.
RB 3: LaMical Perine
Perine suffered a low-grade ankle sprain that had potential to be A LOT worse. I and Jets fans everywhere feared the worse upon the report he was carted from practice. Now, Perine will hopefully be back quickly and able to contribute by Week 2 at the latest. Perine has the potential to be a change of pace back that really compliments the punch you in the mouth rushing style the other two backs have. Perine has flashed his impressive speed early and often in camp, and I’m excited to see him take the field as well. Perine needs to get some reps early to see if he is capable of being the long term back for this team. I’m weary of his durability and overall productivity, but ultimately I’m hoping for the best.
I really like this group. It’s one of my favorite position groups on this roster as a whole. I think the combination of potential with veteran presence is something that could really benefit the team as a whole. Plus, the value Bell brings as a pass-catcher adds another dimension to the offense. I have high hopes for this team. My biggest fear is Adam Gase is the reason I get let down.
The New York Jets‘ running back group was just recently strengthened with the addition of Kalen Ballage. He isn’t going to be a starter by any means, but he’s a capable back who adds depth. With Ballage now added to the mix, the Jets’ depth chart is currently as follows, according to ESPN:
The order behind Bell could change a little, but it’s expected to be extremely similar once the season begins. Bell is going to be the workhorse and get the majority of the playing time and touches, but behind him, it’s all open. It seems pointless to discuss the expectations for Le’Veon because they have been spoken about so frequently. Instead, let’s take a look at some expectations and predictions for the three backs behind him.
The future Hall of Fame inductee currently sits third all-time in career rushing yards with 15,347. While his best days are behind him, Gore can still provide key help when needed. Le’Veon Bell can easily be an every-down back but Gore can be used in late-down situations very well. Third-and-short situations are where I see the long-time veteran taking most of his touches. He can pound the ball up the middle to get the one, two, or three yards to move the chains.
Gore most likely isn’t going to have pretty stats this season, but he doesn’t need them. If he can use his experience and intelligence to just keep drives alive, he can be a nice part of this New York Jets offense.
The rookie out of Florida had a solid college career, finishing ninth in career rushing and receiving yards in team history. He will be getting nowhere near the same amount of touches that he’s used to this season, and he knows that. It’s hard to predict just how much he’ll be used, but it’s probably going to be sparingly, at least to start. He’ll be the third back behind Bell and Gore, and he’ll have to show he deserves to get touches.
The question isn’t whether or not he’ll see the field, because he will. He won’t be appearing on every drive, but he should get around 5 touches a game to start. It could be more, it could be less, but it should be around there.
The third-year back has never had the chance to be featured consistently on offense. That will continue with the New York Jets. Across two season in Miami, he started just 6 of the 24 games he played. In his career, he’s totaled 326 yards and 4 touchdowns thus far. Those are very limited numbers in limited playing opportunities. The downside for him now is that he’ll have even fewer opportunities, if he plays at all.
Ballage may never see the field in a Jets uniform, since he was added simply for back-end depth. He’s capable of being a rotational piece in a backfield, and that’s what he’ll be if he touches the field. He seems to be an addition for the potential scenario where injuries diminish the group. Whatever his usage is or isn’t, he adds back-end security for the Jets backfield.
Each seeking redemption in a new decade, Frank Gore and the New York Jets’ offense may be a match made in football heaven.
No matter what he accomplishes in a New York Jets uniform, the image of Frank Gore bearing the emblems and numerals of New York’s green football team will undoubtedly appear on lists or slideshows of NFL legends dressed in the “wrong” colors. “New York Jets legend Frank Gore” will satirically trend during a future slow day on social media.
Yet, if things pan out, Gore could hold a small but notable role in Jets history.
The addition of the 37-year-old Gore seems counterintuitive to a rebuilding squad. Surely, the latter days of his professional football career would be better spent chasing a title, not helping a rebuilding offense find its footing, no? The third name on the NFL’s all-time rushing list has apparently been playing AFC East bingo over the past few seasons, spending the past two seasons between Miami and Buffalo. An elusive Super Bowl as both a spell option and veteran mentor with a contender would perhaps be the perfect way for the San Francisco legend to ride off into the sunset.
Instead, Gore has spent the opening stages of Jets training camp praising the situation presented in front of him. He’s set to spell incumbent starting rusher Le’Veon Bell after proving servicable in his prior stops with the Jets’ rivals. Gore is one of three 30-year-old running backs to tally at least 1,000 rushing yards over the past two seasons with 1,321 (Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram are the ohters).
“I know the situation here,” Gore in a report from Brian Costello of the New York Post. “We’ve got a great back with Le’Veon, who did great things and still can play this game. I know that he’s our lead dog. My goal is to do whatever it takes when my number gets called to do whatever it takes to help this team be successful.”
Gore is by far the most experienced name on the Jets with 16 NFL seasons under his belt. In a season unlike any other, he’s providing a youth exuberence to the New York proceedings right from the get-go. That included his earliest days with a Jets label, when minicamp endeavors were reduced to a virtual arena.
Head coach Adam Gase knew exactly what he was getting upon extending Gore an invitation to Florham Park. Not only did Gase supervise Gore’s lone season in Miami (where Gore ran for a team-best 722 yards in 2018) but he also played witness to one of the earliest years of his prime as an assistant with the 49ers in 2008.
“He’s a natural leader. He’s the kind of guy that guys respect around the NFL,” Gase said in a report from NewYorkJets.com’s Ethan Greenberg. “He’s done a great job as far as helping younger players that are in the room. I think he’s a good teammate especially the last three or four years in that backup role and the supporting role of whoever that starter is. He’s a great guy for Le’Veon [Bell] to be around. Those two guys can really do some damage together.
“We have two guys that can play all three downs. They both have outstanding skillsets. There’s a little bit of difference in their running style and how they do things, but we know Frank really well and we know how to use them.”
Now that the Jets have gathered in person, it appears Gore’s leaving an impact on the rest of the roster as well, particularly with his offensive contemporaries. Even at his advanced age, he’s finding a way to leave an impact.
Bell, for example, was still a junior at Groveport Madison High School in Ohio when the seasoned veteran made his NFL debut as a third-round pick for San Francisco in 2005. His middle school days came and went while Gore made a name for himself at the University of Miami.
Yet, Bell knows there’s plenty he can learn from Gore, whose earliest NFL days were spent as a silver lining during a lengthy rebuild. He never experienced a winning professional season until his seventh campaign.
“I look at a guy like Frank Gore. I’m fortunate that he’s in my room,” Bell said when asked about his inpiration by Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “I pick his brain. He has a similar mindset as I have. “The fact that he’s 37 years old and he’s playing at a high level still, and he was talking about the things that he was doing when I was 28. He’s like Le’Veon, ‘I was doing this, that and the other.’ So I know I’m doing the right things because I’m hearing it from a guy who’s done it and who’s doing it.”
Gore’s fateful seventh season saw the 49ers go 13-3 and reach the NFC title game. Though a Super Bowl appearance wasn’t to be…the New York Giants stole an overtime decision…they were able to take the next step when Gore’s two touchdowns erased a 10-point deficit against Atlanta for a 28-24 win. Gore is thus a rare Jet who posses experience and a taste of the championship nectar, even if it’s only a mere sip.
The arrival of Gore also takes a certain bit of the offensive load off of Bell. Rushing will be more vital than ever for a Jets team that has major question marks at the top of their wide receiver depth chart slots. It will lead to new opportunities in the backfield, but last proved that one cannot live on Bell alone.
But if Gore can provide relief now and the knowledge to succeed in the future, his impact can last far beyond the one-year deal bestowed to him this offseason.
“We’re excited about not only the production Frank’s brought in his career but we’re excited about the chemistry he’s going to bring to the running backs room and the locker room,” general manager Joe Douglas said in a May report from Randy Lange focusing on Gore’s arrival. “He’s got a great work ethic, he’s a true pro. It’s a relatively young room right now behind Le’Veon. So he’s definitely going to help those young guys and be a great example for them moving forward.”
These positional battles will be especially crucial for the New York Jets to figure out, especially with a potential lack of preseason games.
If the NFL has its way, the New York Jets and their gridiron brethren are making their way to summer camp.
While several notable players have voiced concerns, the league has nonetheless put out a plan that would commence training camp on July 28. Jets proceedings would take place at One Jets Drive in Florham Park, which would be hosting its sixth summer tune-up. The number of preseason games remains a point of contention among the league and the players’ association, thought the Jets’ exhibition opener on August 13 against the Giants has yet to be officially canceled.
But with a shortened slate almost all but assured, training camp takes on greater importance. Games may be the primary source of fans watching depth chart and roster battles, but camp exploits are going to be more important than ever, especially for a team looking for chemistry and coherence.
Where will the most intriguing battles be? ESM investigates…
Right: Chuma Edoga/Brian Winters/Greg Van Roten/George Fant
Left: Alex Lewis/Cameron Clark
Protecting Sam Darnold’s blindside was one of the biggest offseason priorities. The Jets came through via the selection of Louisville’s Mekhi Becton at 11th overall in April’s draft. But big questions remain on the other side.
The veteran Winters, the longest-tenured green player on the New York roster, will probably be fighting for a roster spot. His release is accompanied by cap savings of over $7 million, but management seemed more than happy to give the guard another chance.
“(He’s) a guy that just battled, battled his tail off all year after injuring his shoulder in the preseason and fighting through,” general manager Joe Douglas said in February, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better teammate, a tougher guy than Brian Winters.”
Winters’ journey to maintain his role in the starting lineup faces a major challenge with the arrival of Chaminade High School alum Van Roten, who served as Cam Newton’s security in Carolina over the last three seasons. The arrivals of Van Roten, who can also play tackle, and Fant also raise some heat on Edoga, who was thrust into a starting role due to injuries last season.
Even with the arrival of the dominant Becton, Darnold’s blindside isn’t fully safe. Becton seems set on the outside, but there are major reservations on the interior. Alex Lewis (pictured) may be the name currently penciled in on the depth chart, but he has (understandably) shown some concerns about partaking in the season and could be an opt-out if and when we get to that point. It could be a chance for day three choice Cameron Clark, the pride of the Charlotte 49ers, to work his way into the starting five.
The Jets have been placed in a fortuitous, yet responsibility-laden position where they have not one but two backfield saviors in the forms of Darnold and Le’veon Bell. They’ve started the long arduous process with the drafting of Becton and spending their offseason money on experienced veterans. But as this logjam on the line shows that their work is far from over.
Primary Spell RB
Frank Gore vs. La’Mical Perine
Bell has vowed to right the wrongs of 2019. Reliable rushing assistance will help him attain that goal and help has been obtained from opposite ends of the football experience spectrum.
Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery were not retained, their roles filled by the rookie Perine (pictured) and Gore, who’s anything but. Even in his advanced age, Gore has proven himself useful while playing AFC East bingo. His 4.1 average over the past two seasons with Buffalo and Miami would not only be highest on the Jets last season but also ranks in the top 20 amongst running backs with at least 300 carries over the last two seasons. Gore also has the advantage of working in an Adam Gase system during his 2018 exploits with the Dolphins.
The Jets, however, also have plans for Perine, their fourth-round pick out of Florida.
“We all like his skill set. He’s one of those guys that’s able to do all three phases that you look for a running back to do: be able to run the football, be able to be involved in the passing game, be able to protect,” Gase said of the former Gator, per Demetrius Harvey of Sports Illustrated. “I think we are getting a guy, too, that is very hungry, that is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He obviously was surprised that he lasted to the pick he lasted, and anytime that we can get guys that are coming in like that, that’s a good thing for us.”
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for both Gore and Perine on the team. But it’ll be interesting to see which one gets more opportunities if and when training camp commences.
Avery Williamson/Blake Cashman/Patrick Onwuasor
A shortened or eliminated preseason might wind up helping the Jets in the sense that they would avoid situations like that of Avery Williamson’s last season. The veteran suffered a torn ACL in an exhibition in Atlanta and wound up missing the entire 2019 season. Cashman, a fourth-round pick out of Minnesota, filled in very well in Williamson’s absence before suffering a season-ending injury himself. Further depth came in the form of ex-Baltimore Raven Onwuasor while Neville Hewitt and James Burgess were also re-signed.
Releasing Williamson would’ve saved the Jets $4.5 million in cap, but he was nonetheless retained for another go at it. Whatever work the Jets get in this summer will be absolutely vital for Williamson, currently at the top of the depth chart in one of the Jets’ deepest position groups. If Williamson has made one thing clear this offseason, it’s that he’s not going down without a fight.
“I definitely want to go in being a leader on the defense and just knowing that I’m going to make plays,” Williamson said to Olivia Landis in a video on the team’s official site. “That’s what I did my first year with the Jets and I’m ready to continue that. Once we get back as a group, just going out in camp and proving myself again and showing them that I still have that same fire and the same ability to make those big plays.”
Sam Ficken vs. Brett Maher
When you’re a team that struggles to consistently enter the end zone, a good kicker is a must. The Jets have attempted 63 field goals over the last two seasons (tied for seventh-most in the NFL). That issue was easy to tolerate with Pro Bowler Jason Myers at the boot, but the team went through four different kickers after he left for Seattle. Ficken was retained after being the last of these legs, while Maher was added from Dallas shortly after season’s end. Their percentages were at the literal bottom of the league’s qualified rankings.
Ficken (70.4 percent) was nonetheless retained, his case perhaps helped by a pair of ten-point games in December victories over Miami and Pittsburgh. Maher (66 percent) is perhaps the most notable Jekyll and Hyde case in recent NFL memory, offsetting 60-yard gems with 30-yard flops (sometimes in the same game, like the Cowboys’ October loss to the Jets in East Rutherford). Having a reliable kicker will be vital, creating a safety blanket for a growing offense.
What are the New York Jets getting in La’Mical Perine?
The New York Jets have a deep runningback room, consisting of Le’Veon Bell, veteran Frank Gore, and newly drafted La’Mical Perine out of Florida.
Perine is an interesting player, who can contribute in a similar role to Bilal Powell in recent years. He is a do-it-all running back and can hold his ground in pass protection. While the Florida product isn’t explosive in any category, he does everything at an average level, which makes him a solid back up for the future. Learning from a player like Frank Gore could do him some good, and they might be expecting him to take a significant jump in 2021 after Gore and his one-year deal expires.
Going into the 2020 NFL draft, Perine was noted as having a prototypical size at the position, a great personality, high character, and has good vision when choosing his running lanes. However, he is a little monotonous and fails to explode through the hole, giving linebackers an opportunity to stop him before reaching the second level. His lateral quickness is a bit underwhelming and tends to rely on power rushes up the gut.
Nonetheless, Perine was a solid contributor for Florida in 2019. Over 131 carriers, he totaled 677 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He was also among the teams top pass catchers, logging 40 receptions, 262 receiving yards, and 6.6 yards per catch. He also earned five receiving touchdowns in 13 games.
Overall, he contributed in multiple facets, giving the Jets an all-purpose back with plenty of untapped potential. I fully expect him to sit in a developmental role in 2020, learning from two of the best running backs in the NFL, one of whom a Hall of Fame pedigree.
This will be a fantastic opportunity for Perrine to work on his weaknesses and emerge as a solid back up to Le’Veon Bell in the future.