With Mike Tolbert now gone, it looks like the Buffalo Bills now have a capable backup running back in Chris Ivory. But will he live up to the expectations?
It was very clear to Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane that he needed to address the running back position behind LeSean McCoy after backup running back Mike Tolbert had a terrible first stint with the Bills.
Tolbert had 66 carries for 247 yards, one touchdown and two fumbles. Tolbert somehow managed to be the backup running back throughout the entire season, as he averaged 3.7 yards per carry opposed to McCoy’s 4.0.
Tolbert also saw his playing time decrease later in the season, as he lost snaps to Travaris Cadet who was averaging 4.2 yards per carry until he suffered a dislocated ankle on Christmas Eve. The 10-year veteran only signed a one-year deal worth $980,000, so it’s not like Beane and company invested a huge stock into Tolbert. But by his numbers it comically looks like the Bills sadly overpaid.
After the Wild Card game against Jacksonville, Beane got a taste of what needed to go, but also what needed to come in. Tolbert finished the game with four carries for 15 yards.
Flash forward to free agency in March and Buffalo’s number two running back was still from that game. This time it was on the other side of the ball with Jaguars running back Chris Ivory, who signed a two-year deal with the Bills worth $5.5 million.
After the signing, the overall prediction was that Ivory would jump straight into that number two running back spot. Even though Ivory hasn’t taken a single snap for his new team, he looks to be ahead of veterans like Cadet and Taiwan Jones and newcomers like Marcus Murphy and Keith Ford.
This past season down in Duval County, Ivory was behind rookie sensation Leonard Fournette. But that didn’t slow him down as Ivory still managed to get himself on the field. Ivory carried the ball 166 times for 382 yards and managed to find the end zone once. Ivory’s stint alone was better than Tolbert’s in Buffalo.
Ivory was later cut in February after two seasons in Jacksonville in which he rushed for 821 yards and had four touchdowns in 25 games played. He also caught 41 passes and had one receiving touchdown.
Ivory still shows signs that he can still play at a very high level. He’s a tough, fast, downhill runner that can still run over defenders. Keep in mind that three years ago with the Jets, Ivory set career highs in rushing yards with 1,070 and rushing touchdowns with seven.
That same year Ivory was selected to his first ever Pro Bowl and was voted as the No. 78 best player in the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2016. Although it may look like his best days are behind him, Ivory looks to be a major upgrade over Tolbert.
A prediction for Ivory going into the 2018 season: 98 carries for 400 yards and two touchdowns, along with13 receptions for 38 yards.