New York Jets Players to Watch This Week: Zac Stacy


Times have changed in the NFL.

Gone are the days of every team looking for a workhorse back who can carry the load and tote the ball 25-30 times per game.  Now almost every team, with a few exceptions, has gone to a two or even three-back system.

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Zac Stacy fits into the “workhorse back” box, but unfortunately he may have been born about 20 years too late.  These days, the NFL really does stand for “not for long” if you are a running back who bounces around from team to team.

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For one of the New York Jets’ newest running backs, this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons is huge for Stacy.  He needs to show that he still can be that effective, tough, reliable back that every team needs, but few teams prioritize.

He is only two years removed from a solid rookie campaign with the St. Louis Rams in which he ran for 973 yards on 250 attempts.  That’s not a great yards per carry average, but it shows durability.  Stacy also scored eight total touchdowns that season and only lost one fumble.

Those numbers notwithstanding, he is still in danger of being released by the Jets and possibly going to his third team in three years.  That usually spells doom for running backs.

If there was ever a time for Stacy to have a big game, Friday night at home against the Atlanta Falcons would be that time.  And he should get plenty of opportunities in this game.

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

By all accounts, Chris Ivory will be the Jets starter on opening day.

He has earned this position with his hard tough running for the Jets over the last two seasons, as well as his performance in the first preseason game.  He only played on one drive and racked up 25 yards on six carries.  The 4.2 yards per carry is very good, but the fact that Bowles only played him on the initial drive really shows where he stands in the eyes of the coaching staff.

The third game of the preseason is the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, just ask Dennis Green, so Ivory will play the majority of the first half in the third game.  This should open up some carries for Stacy in the second game against Atlanta.

Bilal Powell is the best pass catcher of the running backs on the Jets roster, and he just signed an extension this past offseason.  So he appears to be locked in as the third-down back.

Stevan Ridley was just brought in as a free agent from the Patriots and has yet to practice with the team.  He had off-season knee surgery and he simply is not ready to go.  All indications are that he will start the season on the PUP list and look to make a return by Week 6.

That brings us back to Stacy.

Last week against the Lions, he had a paltry nine yards on three carries.  That’s just not enough production to warrant a spot in the Jets rotation.  He needs to be productive the next game, not only to make the Jets roster, but really to save his career.  If he just shows a flash of what he did in his rookie season with the Rams, he can make things very interesting for the Jets and possibly develop a trade market for himself should the Jets look to deal him.

Zac Stacy will be a player to watch for the Jets this week.  Now or never may be a cliché, but it may also be the realistic truth.

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