FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Todd Bowles subscribes to the hot-hand philosophy. Or, in this case, hot legs.
When it comes to distributing the rock, the New York Jets coach prefers to stay in the moment and ride the most productive running back — or so he says. With that in mind, it should be easy to figure out the rotation Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Bowles should stick with Bilal Powell and rookie Elijah McGuire. If Matt Forte (turf toe) is healthy enough to play, he should be one of the guys, but not The Guy.
Don’t get me wrong, Forte still has value to the offense and he’s an excellent presence in the locker room, but he doesn’t have big-play ability. In 2,276 career carries, he’s never had a run longer than 68 yards.
Last Sunday, Powell went 75 yards for a touchdown on his first carry, McGuire went 69 yards for a score on his fourth.
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Let’s not over-think this: The Jets (2-2) need to keep feeding Powell and McGuire.
Bowles said the backfield plan remains a “work in progress,” but he said Powell and McGuire will continue to get the ball. How much he didn’t say.
“We left some plays out there on the field,” he said. “I know they got the two big runs, and we’re running the ball, we’re making progress every week. We just have to keep making progress and utilize the guys we have and try to take advantage of certain situations when we can.”
The three-headed monster looks good on paper, but it’s hard to execute because certain runners need the ball to develop a rhythm. Clearly, Powell doesn’t need much time to get his engine churning, although there was a fluky element to his touchdown run. The Jacksonville Jaguars, thinking he was down by contact, stopped their pursuit.
The Jets turned to Powell and McGuire, who combined for 256 yards, because Forte was out with the injury. When Forte is playing, the coaches have a tendency to forget about Powell. That’s directed mainly at the previous offensive staff, although new coordinator John Morton was guilty of that in the first 26 minutes of the opener.
Former center Nick Mangold offered his take on the running-back situation, saying Powell has been “overlooked over the years.” Mangold said he hasn’t watched too much this season, but he left no doubt about his opinion.
“B.P. is the guy,” Mangold said Tuesday on SNY TV’s “Jets Stream” podcast. “That’s the guy you want to roll with.”
When he found out that Forte was out last week, Mangold said he picked up Powell for his fantasy team. Smart move.