Keeping up with recent film studies done on the New York Jets free agent signings (In case you missed them here is Willie Colon and Antonio Garay), let’s take a look at running back Mike Goodson.
With the departure of Shonn Greene, the Jets certainly needed to add depth at the running back position, and went ahead and added Goodson, who previously played for the Raiders in 2012 and the Panthers from 2009-2011, for 3 years at $6.9 million. While the Jets will more than likely add a running back in the draft, Goodson is currently the front runner to become the Jets starter over Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.
At first it doesn’t sound too reassuring that a career back up is the front runner to be the starter, but I think Goodson’s case is a little different. When I look on tape I see a guy who has consistently gotten better each year and could be poised for a big coming out party in 2013. But how does Goodson fit in with the Jets new offense?
It seems like Goodson was John Idzik’s guy from the start of free agency as they quickly moved to bring him into the facility for a visit. My guess is that Idzik saw a guy that fit extremely well in the Jets new offense and a guy who could break a big play at any time, something the Jets have been lacking as of late. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things Goodson does well and how it will translate into the Jets new scheme.
While Marty Mornhinweg has a reputation for being a “pass first” playcaller, he runs the ball a lot more than his West Coast inspired peers. This is a different perspective than the Rex Ryan Jets are used to, but not as far off as many would expect. While the Jets will utilize multiple running schemes, the Zone will be the most oft utilized scheme. This fits Mike Goodson perfectly as he primarily ran the Zone in Oakland. After watching every rushing attempt, by Goodson in 2012, it is obvious that he runs it extremely well. He has excellent vision. He stays on his track when he should and generally makes the correct cut when he needs to. In 2012, I can honestly say that he did not make one bad read that led to a negative play. Every time he was tackled for negative yardage it was due to a missed block or good defense. On Zone plays, Goodson never put the Raiders offense in a bad spot by trying to do too much or making an unnecessary cut.
Let’s look at two examples of Goodson running the zone. Here the Raiders are in a double tight formation and the Falcons are in 4-3 over front.
The Raiders are running inside zone to the right. Backs are taught to read the offensive line’s blocks and defensive flow to determine where the hole should be. Generally backs are told that the hole should be anywhere between the frontside B gap to the backside B gap. The first read for the back is the leverage of the Defensive tackles. By looking at their helmet placement, Goodson can see that the inside combo block has outside leverage on the defensive tackle. Because of this, his read tells him to continue his track into the frontside B gap.
Notice there is a huge cutback lane through the frontside A gap. While a lot of backs would look to cut this back due to the middle linebacker’s flow, Goodson has made the correct read and will continue through the frontside B gap. He is trusting that his offensive line will make the two combo blocks.
Both combo blocks are realized and Goodson hits the hole hard. Backs are taught to be slow to the hole and quick through it on zone. This requires patience. Goodson shows that he has patience by taking his proper steps and allowing the blocking to develop properly so he can make the correct read.
Goodson has made the read and hits the hole fast and decisively on his way to a 43 yard run.
If Goodson had made the wrong read and decided to cut back, he still may have had a long run, but probably not a game breaking 43 yard play. The play just illustrates that Goodson doesn’t make unnecessary cuts and is able to make the correct reads on the zone play. Now let’s look at a play where Goodson cuts it back.
In week 15, Goodson probably had his best game of the season against the Chiefs. Here the Raiders are in an offset I formation and the Chiefs are in a 3-4 under front with Eric Berry in run support to the strong side.
The Raiders are running mid zone to the right. Unlike the last play, the aiming point is a little wider, just off tackle. The same reads apply for the running back as he still has freedom to cutback if it is there. The first thing Goodson should see here is that both OLB Justin Houston and NT Dontari Poe both appear to have outside leverage.
Because Goodson sees this along with Eric Berry roaming in the intended hole, he looks to cut back to the weak side. The key to Goodson being able to make this cutback successfully is that his steps influence the linebackers to flow hard over the top. Goodson is patient and makes his reads and that cuts back to an enormous hole.
The only concern is that DT Ropati Pitoitua has backside leverage on the guard. However, Goodson’s burst allows him to run straight through the arm tackle and get to the second level.
Goodson busts through the line to the second level where he gets a nice block from WR Rod Streater on his way to an 11 yard gain and a first down.
The main lesson we learn from these two clips is that Goodson is very good at running on zone blocking schemes. He knows how to make the correct reads. He cuts back when he has to and carries the play out as initially drawn up when he has to. Goodson demonstrates good patience and has a quick burst through the hole once he makes his read. This will translate well into Marty Mornhinweg’s system where the zone will be the primary running scheme.
Goodson is a complete running back. He is not a back that can only succeed in a zone scheme however. While he definitely is better on zone rushing plays, he has shown the ability to be a game breaker on gap scheme plays like Power or Counter, along with man scheme plays like Iso. My one criticism is that Goodson can choose to make some uneccessary cuts on the gap scheme plays. There are a few examples of Goodson cutting too early on Power, where he gets tackled for no gain even though there isn’t really any disruption in the hole.
Mike Goodson is a gamebreaker. This has to be the main reason why Idzik locked him up. When Marty Mornhinweg was with the Eagles, he always had a game breaker in the backfield that could make the big play at any minute. Think of Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. While, Goodson is nowhere near the dancer that those two guys were, he is an elusive back and probably has more straight away speed. =In fact, Pro Football Focus rated him as the most elusive back in the NFL in 2012 based on broken tackles and yards after contact.
Here is a sample of Goodson’s gamebreaking ability in 2012
This clip shows just one of Goodson’s big plays on the year. It also shows Goodson’s ability in the pass game. Mornhinweg’s offense with the Eagles was consistently one of the best screen teams in the NFL. Goodson has shown on numerous occasions that he can be used in the pass game both on screens and on check downs. As a third down back, Carson Palmer frequently threw the ball to Goodson. He had 16 catches in 2012 for the Raiders. In 2010, when he had a chance to start a few games for the Panthers, Goodson had 40 catches. Since Goodson was actually thought to be a better WR prospect coming out of the draft, he can also be split out when needed as the Raiders did a few times last year. This is something Mornhinweg did frequently during the Brian Westbrook era.
The one glaring issue that I saw on film with Goodson is pass protection. Since Goodson was a third down back, he was often in the game on pass plays. Generally, however, he was in there to go out on routes. When he had to stay in and block, it wasn’t always pretty. He isn’t the strongest back, so his anchor isn’t that great, especially when facing a bull rush.
Here on third down the Raiders are in a man pass protection. Goodson is in the backfield.
The Dolphins bring a blitz and have six pass rushers. Goodson is responsible for the LB Kevin Burnett. Goodson does a good job of recognizing who he has and meets Burnett just behind the LOS.
Burnett brings a power move and bull rushes Goodson, knocking him completely off the block. Burnett easily gets to Carson Palmer, delivering a big hit and forcing Palmer to throw the ball away.
If Mike Goodson wants to be an every down back, he needs to improve on his pass protection. He has trouble blocking bigger stronger linebackers. He often resorts to cut blocks, which he can miss from time to time. Goodson has no trouble figuring out his responsibility in the protection; he just gets out manned at the point of attack.
The conclusion on Mike Goodson is that he is a pretty well rounded back. He is excellent in the zone scheme and above average in power and man blocking schemes. This has allowed him to average 6.3 YPC in 2012 and 4.5 YPC overall. He can catch the ball and has shown the ability to be a competent kick returner. Goodson can be a game breaker out of the backfield, something the Jets desperately need. He also shows the mental capacity to pick up a new offense pretty quickly (Unlike Joe McKnight).
Perhaps, the most positive thing I can say about Goodson is that he seems to get better every year despite limited touches. In looking at scouting reports from 2010 and 2011, Goodson’s biggest flaws were his inability to hang on to the football. He had 6 fumbles and 7 dropped passes in 2010. In 2012, Goodson didn’t have any fumbles or dropped passes. He seems to have the determination to fix the things he struggles with and hopefully can apply that to his pass protection.
Another thing I like about Goodson is that he is an excitable player that brings a lot of swagger and passion to the game. He just needs to make sure he keeps the attitude in check. He was fined in his rookie year for doing a throat slashing gesture and was (Questionably) thrown out of a game in 2012 for fighting with Takeo Spikes. If he is able to keep his attitude in check, he should be a player that Jets fans can get fired up about because he is a dynamic player that shows a lot of excitement.
Mike Goodson was signed to a 3-year deal because he has shown that he can be a game changer and could be poised for a breakout year. He has shown that he fits well into Marty Mornhinweg’s offensive philosophy and has consistently gotten better throughout his 4 years in the league. Like several of the Jets other signings, if Goodson can stay healthy and some of his old issues don’t return he could be everything the Jets are looking for in a running back.
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