Chris Ivory sounded downright thankful this week that the Saints opted to trade him to the Jets in the offseason, rather than force him to fight for carries in a crowded New Orleans backfield. He still ran with a chip on his shoulder Sunday, punishing the Saints with 93 first-half yards and 139 overall in the Jets' 26-20 win.
After three seasons using Ivory as a part-time player, the Saints dealt him to the Jets for a fourth-round pick. The Saints then used that additional draft choice to trade up into the third round for defensive tackle John Jenkins. Thus, the result looked like a win-win for the two teams through the first eight weeks of the season -- Ivory was named the "FedEx Ground Player of the Week" by the NFL for a 104-yard showing in Week 7, while Jenkins has been a steady contributor up front for the revitalized Saints D.
But Ivory may have started to tip the scales in New York's direction Sunday, even though he refused to tab this matchup as a shot at revenge.
"I didn’t ask for a trade ... but it was a crowded backfield, so I was happy with the move,” Ivory said Wednesday, according to ESPN.com. "I wasn’t upset at all. It was an opportunity for me to come over here. They [the Saints] still have five running backs. They’re still playing just three. It was just crowded.
"I think he [Sean Payton] knew coming in there were too many backs to let me sit around. Time was going by. No, I was happy with what he did and now I’m here trying to make great things happen."
Whether or not Ivory viewed Sunday as a shot to get back at the Saints, he ran with purpose. His first big play came early in the second quarter, with the Jets down 7-3 and backed up on their own 2-yard line. From there, he burst through the right side of the line for 52 yards.
Later in the quarter, on a 3rd-and-2, Ivory found a hole and burst into the end zone for his first touchdown of the year.
A hamstring injury has limited Ivory at times this season, but he has an opportunity to really take charge of the Jets' running back situation -- something he did not really have in New Orleans, hence his utter lack of disappointment with being traded. Ivory finished Sunday with 18 carries, double the total of fellow running back Bilal Powell. Ironically, this was one game where the Saints may have been able to use Ivory extensively, because Darren Sproles exited early with an injury.