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NFL Draft

La’Mical Perine Can Have Featured Role In Jets’ Backfield

  • The Draft Network
  • October 15, 2020
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There are many things New York Jets head coach Adam Gase has done this year that don’t make a lot of sense, hence the team being on the fast track to the worst record in football at 0-5 with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. One of those things is the lack of offensive snaps for rookie running back La'Mical Perine.

Now, I want to start by saying that the Jets running back room wasn’t wide open when they selected Perine in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. They had a highly paid Le’Veon Bell as their top feature back with the experienced and timeless wonder of the world that is Frank Gore behind him. The Jets even went as far as to pick up Kalen Ballage after the Miami Dolphins released him earlier this year.

However, when you take a step back and look at the overall situation of each of those players, Bell was coming off the least productive season of his career, plus he was disgruntled with the team; Gore is more of a veteran player to take a good team over the top, not one for a bad team to invest in moving forward; and Ballage was recently cut. 

How in the world does that equation come out to Perine only having 40 total offensive snaps on the season? Ballage wasn’t even on the team during training camp and even he has more snaps (57) this season than Perine.

Now that Bell has been released (along with Ballage), it has to be Perine time. What has caused his lack of usage to date? Gase didn’t want to put too much on his plate as to potentially “stunt his growth.”

Sure.

Even with both Bell and Ballage gone, Perine will still be in somewhat of a rotation with Gore, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams. But even when Perine gets in there, it might not be pretty. The Jets offense has been reeling; they are fifth in total offensive DVOA and fifth in rushing DVOA. The team is closer to the middle of the pack when it comes to rushing totals; New York has an average of 103.4 yards per game and 4.1 yards per attempt.

Perine suffered an ankle injury in camp, which perhaps still plays in the minds of some of the decisions to not play him. When Perine was on the field, however, he was giving the rushing attack its most explosive plays, per multiple reports out of the Jets’ camp. I will certainly admit, too, that after watching how long it took Ronald Jones to really get comfortable and progress in Tampa Bay, there is truth to the fact that some players just need more time to be confident when making the jump to the pros.

Perine had a strong last two seasons at Florida. He never eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark, but in his final years, he averaged 5.7 yards per attempt, and in his final season, he caught 40 receptions. He was a big play-maker for Florida in the run and passing game, even in a rotation.

“We’re going to try to figure out what’s best for us going forward, who we want to use in the backfield and at wide receiver and all those things,” Gase said. “If that means Perine has more carries, then we’ll do that. We just want to make sure that he’s put in a good position where he can grow, you just don’t want to put too much on his plate too fast and kind of really stunt his growth at all. I think we’re always trying to look to keep him going in the right direction, he’s done a great job so far and getting him more involved is a good thing.”

It sounds like there is certainly a willingness to get Perin more involved than he was before. That’s good, because when you look at that running back room without Bell, even if there are struggles this season, Perine is clearly the back worth investing in for the future. 

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