Grading Joe Douglas: Signing Frank Gore is a solid if under-appreciated offseason move
Issues in the backfield were addressed by the New York Jets this offseason, first in the NFL Draft and then in free agency.
While La’Mical Perine is likely the future of the Jets backfield, the veteran Frank Gore will be an important role model and bridge player for the organization.
Gore, who turned 37-years old in May, is likely headed to enshrinement someday in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Right now, however, his role will be to back up star running back Le’Veon Bell, who is coming off a bit of a down season in 2019. The issues with Bell were less about the Pro Bowl running back and more about the offensive line. With a rebuilt line, Bell as well as Gore and Perine should benefit.
The lowdown: Running back wasn’t a priority position heading into the offseason but nonetheless adding depth in the backfield was necessary for the Jets. Gore fits the mold of being a reliable, proven running back. No one expects Gore to replace Bell but to add to the backfield rotation.
With Perine and Gore, there is cover behind Bell and plenty of versatility. He also adds to the locker room, bringing a veteran’s voice and leadership by example. Gore should add some presence to the Jets that was sorely lacking a season ago.
What Gore brings: He’s a physical running back who should be able to help in short yardage situations and the goal line. He also is a change of pace from the speedy and shift Bell. Gore (and Perine) should be able to help keep Bell fresh. Bell took a lot of knocks last year from some big hits. Hopefully, a deeper backfield will provide some balance and keep the team’s star running back healthy.
Gore also brings a veteran’s voice to the running back room as well as a calming presence. That is as important as his on the field production in helping to mentor and being a sounding board for Bell as well as the rookie Perine.
Where he fits: He will spot Gore and help in certain situations. Last season, Gore rushed for 599 yards and two touchdowns. His 3.6 yards per carry were down from his career average of 4.3 yards per carry.
With all that being said, he isn’t asked to be a feature back on the Jets. Rather, he will be a situational back and a leader in a young locker room.
Long-term outlook: Gore is not part of the future of the rebuild as he helps bridge the running back situation in the present. If things work out well, then he could potentially play another season beyond 2020. But the Jets aren’t looking for Gore to carry them to a winning season. If they are asking that question of him, then the season likely isn’t going along well.
Grading the move: In Gore, there is little to no risk on or off the field. He’s solid, dependable and able to carry out his function on the team. This is a good move for the character of the team as well as being a balance on the field. A nice, solid move that may fly under the radar but can pay dividends in the latter parts of the season.