It’s not as crazy of a thought as you may think. With the Jets being thought of as a team looking to tank in 2017, the idea of their potentially best player leading in both rushing and receiving yards this season is definitely not out of the question.
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The Jets are approaching Week 1 with a decimated receiving corps, a murky quarterback situation, a somewhat uncertain feature back, and an inexperienced rookie defense. It doesn’t look all that pretty.
On the bright side however, Bilal Powell has made quite a name for himself. He has steadily improved his game over his seven years with the Green & White.
In his first season, after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, Powell rushed 13 times for 21 yards and caught one pass for seven yards.
Fast forward to last season where Powell rushed 131 times for 722 yards along with 58 receptions for 388 yards (via Pro-Football-Reference), and you can clearly see a positive trend.
Bilal Powell was tough to take down in 2016 pic.twitter.com/xXe127ybdA
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 5, 2017
The versatile half-back is poised for a big year statistically in 2017. Though he will start the season splitting carries with teammate Matt Forte, that shouldn’t prevent him from reaching new career milestones.
Forte, who has been surrounded with trade talk as of late, is continuing to battle age and injury. This meaning that the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to look less and less bright for him as Powell remains his competitive counterpart.
With such a deflated receiving group for the Jets this season, the backfield will likely be heavily relied on for first down yardage. And as long as Powell stays healthy, he should have no problem leading this year’s team in rushing.
But running the ball isn’t his only talent. Powell, as mentioned before, has made strides over the years in evolving his play-style, and that includes catching the ball.
Last season, Powell was tied for second on the Jets roster in terms of receptions (Tied with Quincy Enunwa – 58 receptions).
Ahead of him? Former teammate Brandon Marshall with 59 (via Pro-Football-Reference).
With an eventual outlook of 20-25 rushes a game for Powell, we could also expect to see 10+ targets a game for the power-back. Whether it’s through a half-back screen or out of the slot, the versatility of Powell will likely be utilized plenty in this year’s passing attack for the Jets.
Though it may be a bit of a stretch that Powell leads the team in both rushing and receiving yards, it surely isn’t impossible. It may be more likely that he finds himself leading in both rushing yards and passes caught (rather than yards), but that will not only be dependent on him and his health, but on his quarterback, whoever that may be.
Do you think there’s any shot Powell can achieve both milestones? Let us know below.