The New York Jets don’t often have the image of a team that’s creative offensively but things might be changing, as Chris Johnson, supposedly their leading running back for this season, has a good chance of playing multiple snaps lined up as a wide receiver in an attempt to make this offense a little bit more versatile.
Johnson has always been a good receiver, catching at least 40 passes in all but one of his seasons with the Titans. Last year he caught four passes for a touchdown, as he once again reached the 1000 yards quota from the backfield on the ground, although it was his weakest season in terms of yards and yards per carry since entering the NFL in 2008.
While Johnson, who had an off-season surgery on his knee, is supposed to lead the Jets running game, something they struggled with last season from start to finish, it’s not going to be as direct and predictable as that. The Jets used him out wide in the first scenes from training camp, and from what can be said over a few sets of practice, it could become a very useful weapon that teams find it difficult to handle.
Johnson isn’t the only offensive change to this team, but he probably best signifies the transformation, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg trying to avoid runs of 20 points in three games that ruined the Jets’ playoff hopes last season.
Johnson, too, made an impact in the passing game, splitting out wide and catching balls in space — a new dimension for the Jets’ offense. He’s so fast that linebackers will have to cover the flat routes, which will create room in the middle of the field. For a change, the Jets can attack all areas of the field. It’s not a phone-booth offense anymore.
There’s still no guarantee about who starts at quarterback for the Jets – Geno Smith or Michael Vick, but Smith is the leading man. It’ll be a difficult season for him, hoping to bounce back from a rough rookie year. Giving him a weapon such as Johnson to rely on, not to mention Eric Decker, might be a useful addition to someone who didn’t look quite sure at times of who to throw to and what to do, especially earlier in the season.