NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — He’s not the first guy you think of when charting out your potential fantasy roster, but as far as how he will fit in with the Jets, Isaiah Crowell just might end up being one of the team’s better signings in some time.
Only 25 years old, the fifth-year running back had to endure a lot of ball-sharing and losing with the Cleveland Browns before signing with the Jets as a free agent this past spring. Though he likely will platoon with veteran Bilal Powell and youngster Elijah McGuire this fall, he will easily be the most talented back on the roster and with the highest upside.
“I want to be a big-time player here,” Crowell said. “I want to prove it to my coaches and my teammates that I’ve got what it takes to be an every-down back and help my team win games.”
An iron man of sorts, Crowell ran for more than 3,100 yards, 4.2 per carry and 21 touchdowns in 64 games, including 45 starts for the Browns. There’s a very good chance he will see the bulk of the workload for the Jets. Part of the reason why they moved on from offensive coordinator John Morton after last season was he wouldn’t commit to the run. New coordinator Jeremy Bates, on the other hand, seems determined to, if nothing else, create real balance on offense.
That should bode well for Crowell, a speedster who is also quite adept at gaining yards after contact.
“We liked (Crowell’s) toughness,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “We liked the way he can slash through and cut. He is a tough runner. We think he is a pound-it back as well as having some versatile, lateral movement that can play out on the edge a little bit, and we thought he would be a great younger-leg type of (Matt) Forte utility guy coming in. Maybe not the receiver that Forte is to a certain degree, but from a running-the-ball standpoint. We thought he helped in the backfield from a toughness standpoint.”
Crowell, who had 96 receptions and 770 yards receiving during his four seasons in Cleveland, figures to benefit from the best crop of quarterbacks the Jets have had in years and a receiving corps that will be buoyed by the return of veteran Quincy Enunwa, who missed all of last season with a neck injury. Regardless if it’s No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, or veterans Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater under center starting Week 1 at Detroit, the Jets’ passing game figures to be a strength this season.
“I like the system they have,” Crowell said. “I like everything. I feel like it’s a good place to be. I just felt really good about it.”
Crowell has definitely gotten Bowles’ attention during the offseason Organized Team Activities.
“Right now, he has been great,” Bowles said. “He is doing everything we have asked of him right now. He is running the ball, he is picking up his blocks and picking up the system well. It will be exciting to see him in pads.”