It wasn’t next man up — it was next men up.
Without impressive rookie running back Michael Carter, the Jets’ ground game didn’t miss a beat, enjoying its best day of the season. And they did it with a three-man rotation of Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson and practice squad call-up Austin Walter making the most of their opportunities.
“Credit to the O-line. The challenge we had this week for the offense was urgency and physicality at the line of scrimmage,” coach Robert Saleh said after his team’s 21-14 win over the Texans snapped a three-game losing streak. “I felt like we were able to do that by getting a lot of push, creating a lot of creases, and I thought the backs did a good job finding those creases and hitting it strong.
“Really good day in terms of [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur leaning on them and them responding with the way they blocked up front.”
The three combined for 147 yards on 31 carries, and Walter produced a 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. It was the first score of his career. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was back under center after missing the last four games with a knee injury, and the ground game helped him after a shaky start. It enabled the Jets to win the time of possession battle — a rarity this year — by a comfortable margin of 33:42 to 26:18.
Of the three, Coleman was used the most. He entered the game with 118 rushing yards on 30 carries, and notched 67 yards on 16 carries, running well and hitting holes hard. The Jets had a season-high 157 yards on the ground, and they did it without their No. 1 running back.
“It was huge, you saw how it opened everything else up,” Wilson said. “It was awesome that those guys were able to come through. It’s nice when you have that balanced football.”