Bilal Powell: A Star, Years In The Making

Bilal Powell: A Star, Years In The Making

The Jets have shaped their established superstar.
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The New York Jets have been resting on a gold mine in 7th year Running Back Bilal Powell, a player who has never truly been in the spotlight, and one who has been consistently overshadowed by the prominence of teammates. The Jets have found a niche with Powell by playing him in a complimentary play style, as they have used him sparingly alongside featured Running Backs like Chris Ivory and Matt Forte. However, in 2017, Powell is finally seeing an increased workload out of the Jets’ backfield, and in 2018, he could be the deadliest weapon in New York’s offense.

When Powell first arrived in New York in 2011, the Jets were fresh off their second consecutive trip to the AFC Championship Game. The team was so close to a Super Bowl appearance, yet New York couldn’t quite figure out what the missing link was. Little did the Jets know that the missing puzzle piece has been under their nose for the past 7 years. However, instead of utilizing their newly drafted young talent, the Jets elected to return the starting RB job back to Shonn Greene, whose late-season prowess the year before had helped fuel the Jets postseason run.

However, once Greene left the Jets in 2012, New York kept Powell out of the limelight by signing the former New Orleans Saints backup RB, Chris Ivory. Ivory came to the Jets in 2013 with no knowledge of the offense and only 295 yards on average over the last 2 seasons, while Powell had run for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns the previous season as the backup. It was clear that the Jets had no plans to feature Powell in their gameplay each Sunday, however, the young Running Back saw it fit to go against the team’s narrative.

Over the course of the 2013 season, Powell posted career highs in touches, yards, and receptions, however, the Jets failed to qualify for the Playoffs. Despite New York’s shortcomings when it came to winning games, it was becoming crystal clear that Powell’s young age and unmatched potential would play key roles in the Jets’ future.

However, at the end of the 2015 season, the Jets failed to qualify for the playoffs for the 4th straight year, after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills that would have sent New York to the postseason, had they won the game. During the offseason, the Jets saw it fit to release Chris Ivory, setting the stage for Bilal Powell to finally earn his share of the spotlight as the featured RB in New York.

However, instead of making the logical decision to utilize Powell’s speed, vision, and young talent, the Jets decided to sign an aging and declining Matt Forte. Over the course of Forte’s two seasons with the Jets, he has posted career lows in yards, receptions, rushing attempts, yards/attempt, and touchdowns. And while Forte has accumulated the worst two-season stretch of his nine-year career, he has still remained the starter on a dysfunctional and lost Jets roster, forcing Bilal Powell to fall to the wayside for yet another year.

However, third-year coach Todd Bowles is finally realizing the hidden potential of Bilal Powell and how he can be a valuable piece in the Jets’ offense over the next few years. On Christmas Eve, when the Jets played the Los Angeles Chargers, Matt Forte fumbled the ball early in the game, resulting in Coach Bowles to turn his confidence over to Powell, who would go on to have one of his best games of the season, as he posted 145 yards from scrimmage on 19 attempts, including a 57-yard touchdown early in the second half.

Matt Forte only carried the ball 8 times for an uninspiring 19 yards. Ever since the Jets played the Atlanta Falcons during Week 8 of the season, Powell’s usage has been trending upward, and in a shocking twist, the Jets find ways to succeed when Powell is on the field. when Powell is the featured back. Over the past two years, there have been six games where Powell has played and Forte did not play. In these five games, the Jets are 4-1.

With the pieces in place for a rebuild in New York, the Jets could be contenders as early as next season. If all goes according to plan for the Jets, their offense could be a devastating threat for opposing defenses, as the receiving core of Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson have been stellar in 2017.

And now, since the Jets have little to no inclination of keeping Matt Forte on board for 2018, a revolution of young talent is shaping up in New York, and Bilal Powell is finally at the helm.

Cover Image Credit: WikiCommons

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Thank You, Swimming, For Not Giving Up On Me When I Gave Up On You

It's something I cherish, even if it isn't going to be a part of my life forever.

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We choose not to think about it. It's hard to comprehend the countless hours we've dedicated, the accomplished goals, the unaccomplished goals, the heartbreak, and the victory. We try not to let the highs get to0 high or the lows get too low. Our parents have spent likely too much money on equipment, training and pasta dinners for carb overloads.

While our dreams transpired from being an Olympic gold medalist to somehow making it to the college level our passion was unwavering.

Passion is the thing that never went away.

When I was six years old I never considered exactly why I dedicated my afternoons and weekends to swimming back and forth over and over again. Every day, I jumped on the block high off of ring pops and pixie stick sugar and raced my heart out for a blue ribbon.

As I got older, the blue ribbon wasn't enough so I stopped eating candy before my events and even started drinking some water before I got on the block (I think I even warmed up a time or two). When I started high school life was no longer as cookie cutter as it was for me at six years old and I began to question the three hours I spent at the pool every afternoon. I even began to realize that football games, date nights out with the 16-year-old who had a car and girls nights with my friends consistently trumped the concept of swim practice.

My progress reflected my new found interests and I quickly began to loathe the sport that was once my very reason for waking up in the morning. So why didn't I quit? I honestly have no idea and I couldn't justify it if I tried. I hated everything about the sport but I couldn't bring myself to throw in the towel completely. I could blame it on my coaches, I could blame it on my parents and I could blame it on the 16-year-old boy with a car.

Really, the only person I can blame is myself.

In the midst of my highly hormonal teenage years, I was more than capable of identifying anything and everything that could possibly take the blame for my increasing times, destroyed mindset and negative attitude. I hated my mother for forcing me to go to practice every day. I hated my coaches for not believing in me. I hated my teammates for not hating swimming as much as I did.

Looking back, my mother still saw me as the 6-year-old girl with a ring pop in one hand and a blue ribbon in the other and she blamed herself for my depleting passion and was desperate for it to return. If I was my coaches, I probably wouldn't have believed in me either because I surely didn't believe in myself. As for my teammates, many of them started swimming much later than I did, and I now understand why they may not have had the same resentment and struggles that I was feeling at the time. I realize now that all of these issues stemmed from one major internal issue: I didn't believe in myself.

I tried to fool myself into it a few times. I'd take a deep breath, climb on the block, tell myself I could make it through the race and touch the wall without looking up at the clock because I already knew the result was not one I wanted to see. I let my times reflect my self-worth which was ignorant because it is virtually impossible to compete well when you do not believe in yourself.

I pretended to let the comments about my times being slower roll off my shoulders, but they etched themselves in my mind and echoed through every race I swam. I pretended not to care that my coach forgot to get my splits on my race, but for some reason the next time I raced I didn't feel particularly inclined to put my best foot forward. I was desperate to love the sport that had once been the source of my happiness, and the heartbreak that came with my new found hatred for it was overbearing.

I was trying so hard to love it, but I was struggling to make it through.

There are days where I do not touch the times I did as a 12-year-old girl and there are days where I choose a date night over swim practice. Sometimes, I even turn off my alarm in the morning and pretend that I forgot to set it just because I don't feel like getting out of bed for practice.

There are meets where I add 10 seconds and there are meets where tears fill my goggles in the warm down pool. There are coaches who still don't believe in me and there are "friends" who still laugh at my times. But, there are coaches who do believe in me and there are friends who do celebrate my success and unfortunately, both of these realities go hand in hand.

So no, I am no Olympic gold medalist and in three short years, swimming will likely just be a memory of mine. But, it will be a memory I cherish and a memory I love and I couldn't ask for much more than that.

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