Thoughtful coverage for thinking fans.
The New York Jets made their first significant move of the off-season on Friday by signing former Oakland Raiders running back Mike Goodson. Having begun his NFL career obscured by the long shadows of Carolina Panthers backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Goodson also found his opportunities limited in Oakland, where he was forced to understudy Darren McFadden.
Consequently little is known about the 25-year-old who was, when coming out of High School, described by scout.com as being “one of the best in the nation”. So, in order to get a handle on what it is that caused Jets GM John Idzik to make a beeline straight for him, let’s look at some tape of Goodson making a rare appearance against the Kansas City Chiefs back in Week 15 of 2012.
We’ll begin with a play that showcases the former Texas A&M man at his very best. Behind a basic angle-blocking scheme (Picture 1) Goodson starts out by flowing in the direction of the play.
But as the play develops, he cuts to the backside (Picture 2) and looks to burst through the biggest hole in the line – despite the fact that it is being occupied by All-Pro linebacker Derrick Johnson (blue).
Johnson is in excellent shape to make the tackle (Picture 3) and the play looks to be stuffed at the line of scrimmage. (Nothing new there for Jets fans who are used to seeing Shonn Greene plough headlong into the welcoming arms of waiting defenders).
But despair not. At the point of impact (Picture 4) Goodson pulls a sweet spin move out of his locker and leaves Johnson flailing at the empty space where he once stood..
With Johnson lying defeated upon the floor (Picture 5), Goodson now sets about finding a way past Kendrick Lewis – an aim which he achieves courtesy of an ankle-breaking shimmy and body-swerve combined with a sharp cut to the defender’s inside.
With a swathe of open field before him, Goodson ramps up the turbo and explodes beyond his pursuers, leaving CB Jalil Brown (green) as the only Chief with any chance of preventing him from flying into the endzone for six points.
Twenty-five yards later, the angle of Lewis’s pursuit gives him the opportunity to make the tackle (Picture 7) but even then he is left to grab one-handed at the fleet-footed running back’s shoulder pad.
To his credit, the defensive back somehow manages to hold on and eventually drags Goodson down, but not before he’s managed to log a 43-yard gain.
To break this play down further and look at what it might mean in the context of the new Jets offensive scheme, the first thing to note is that Goodson’s vision and cutback ability will be critical in terms of compensating for what may be a weakened offensive line due to the potential absence of free agent guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson. Moreso, the cutback style has long been favored by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and, in this play alone, it’s clear to see that comparisons can be drawn between Goodson and Mornhinweg’s former Philadelphia Eagles feature back LeSean McCoy. Consequently it seems likely to the point of certainty that he will be the starting running back once the new season rolls around in September.
Although I was unable to find any game tape of Goodson running a draw play (a fundamental staple of Mornhinweg’s playbook), these attributes also suggest that he may be well-suited to it. This obviously has implications for a passing game that was badly hampered in 2012 by former playcaller Tony Sparano’s stubborn refusal to use the run as a means of setting up the pass.
And, speaking of the pass, Jets fans can also look forward to Goodson adding versatility as a legitimate receiver – more of which later – but for now let’s add to what we’ve just seen by considering another running play.
Effectively what we’re looking at here (Picture 8) is a G-Power out of the shotgun, with the left tackle and guard forming a double-team against the defensive tackle, while the tight end seals off the outside and the right guard pulls to account for the unblocked linebacker. The play is designed so that Goodson hits the ‘5 hole’ shown by the window outlined in red.
Roll the tape on a few frames and we see (Picture 9) that although he has begun to follow the play’s original design, Goodson has hesitated (presumably as a result of seeing the unblocked linebacker’s helmet flashed to the outside of his guard) and is about to cut it back to the weakside.
Once again (Picture 10) it seems as if the play is about to be blown up before it has begun (on the 36-yard line) – this time by blitzing cornerback Javier Arenas.
But whereas in the last play that we looked at he used his speed and agility to blow by defenders, this time Goodson shows another side to his game (Picture 11) by dragging Arenas all the way to the 44-yard line.
Last but not least, Goodson also demonstrated in this game that he is capable of being the dual threat that many Jets fans hoped Joe McKnight might one day become. In the first quarter, quarterback Carson Palmer emptied the backfield (Picture 12) by motioning the running back into the split end position.
Goodson releases into the flat (Picture 13) and hauls in a simple swing pass from Palmer.
From there he takes advantage of some effective blocking (Picture 14) and once again uses his exceptional speed, agility, and change of direction skills to begin beating defenders and picking up yardage.
Finally, with three would-be Chiefs tacklers either on the floor or just getting up from it (Picture 15) Goodson is eventually nailed to the ground after picking up a very neat 14 yard chunk.
In conclusion, although football games are not won and lost on game tape taken from the previous season, my finding has been that after years of fruitless searching, the Jets may well have finally found the feature back that they have spent so long looking for: Goodson has it all – speed, vision, burst, agility, and above all else an invaluable sixth sense that enables him to see running lanes where lesser backs would only see trouble.
Anybody who follows me on Twitter will know that I’ve already stated my expectation that in 2013 Goodson will clock up over 1000 yards. But I’m now prepared to go beyond that… in my opinion, John Idzik may have just signed a future Jets great.
Is Mike Goodson the answer to the Jets’ backfield problems? Or is Idzik just papering over the cracks? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.