With most of Week 1 in the books, and we’re now able to take a look back at what went right and what went wrong for the 28 teams that have played so far. Of those 28 teams, seven were easy to identify as teams that could use a boost to their running games, and here’s who we found:
Reggie Bush departed for Detroit and had a mammoth Week 1 performance. Miami does have a potentially promising young back in Lamar Miller, but he had less yards than he had attempts yesterday, rushing for three yards on 10 carries. The other option for the Dolphins is third-year tailback Daniel Thomas, and while he did score a touchdown in the their 23-10 victory over the Browns on Sunday, he rushed for just 14 total yards on eight carries. The two backs combined to rush for 17 yards on 18 carries, so if the Dolphins really want to take their passing attack to the next level and help second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill grow into one of the league’s better quarterbacks, they’ll need to get a running game going, and could take a flyer on Wells.
In a seemingly identical situation, the Bengals had starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis rush for a touchdown, but he only picked up 25 yards on 14 carries. The Bengals ultimately fell to the Bears 24-21, and while they technically remain tied for first place with the three other AFC North teams losing this weekend as well, they could certainly look to bring in the Ohio-native Wells to see if he can’t jumpstart their ground game.
While the Cowboys have one of the better tailbacks in the league in DeMarco Murray, he’s known to be injury-prone, and the Cowboys don’t have much depth behind him. Bringing in Wells to be a quality second option behind Murray and lessen Murray’s workload could prove beneficial for both players’ careers. With the Cowboys’ offensive line looking much better this season and Wells not being relied on as the every-down back, he could find some success being used in spurts.
New York Jets
Buccaneers linebacker LeVonte David carried the Jets to victory on Sunday afternoon by committing a Jets-esque late hit on Geno Smith with seconds remaining in the game. The penalty ultimately put the Jets into field goal range, and Nick Folk knocked it through to give them the 17-16 win over the Bucs. However, Jets running backs only logged 44 yards on the ground. If they truly want Geno Smith to thrive and NOT become the next quarterback bust, he can’t be the only source of a running game. Mike Woodson will be coming back from his suspension in Week 5, but Wells could prove to be some healthy competition for Woodson and the rest of the Jets running backs as they look to create a multi-dimensional offense.
The Steelers drafted Le’Veon Bell with hopes of making him the next great Steelers running back. Those plans are certainly still worth pursuing, however, Bell is currently injured, and the Steelers lost another running back today when Larod Stephens-Howling suffered an ACL injury. That leaves them with Felix Jones and Isacc Redman, and while both could prove to put up a solid fight for the starting job, Wells could once again provide some healthy competition and quality depth, especially with Jones’ injury history.
New York Giants
Anyone that watched the Giants take on the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football knows what I’m talking about. David Wilson put the ball on the ground twice (and ultimately lost both fumbles), and even when he didn’t turn it over, he mustered up just 19 total yards on seven carries. Da’Rel Scott was marginally more effective, rushing for 23 yards on his five carries, but it’s apparent that the Giants need to put out a better running attack in the coming weeks.
Tom Coughlin and companied already worked out Wells and former Steelers tailback Jonathan Dwyer early last week, but after what happened last night, perhaps they’ll give Wells another look.
Terrelle Pryor put together a solid Week 1 performance as the Raiders’ starting quarterback on Sunday, however, he was also the team’s leading rusher. While the Raiders won’t give up on injury-prone Darren McFadden, bringing in Wells to lessen McFadden’s workload and keep him healthy could prove to be quite beneficial to the Raiders’ offense. Wells also brings in previous chemistry with Pryor from their days as Buckeyes teammates in 2008, and it could be interesting to see if the two players that helped carry the Buckeyes to the Fiesta Bowl that season could be a productive duo at the professional level.
Jacksonville could use another option behind Maurice Jones-Drew and New England could look for a new starter after Stephen Ridley’s struggles this afternoon, but the Jaguars have multiple young options they’d like to take a look at and the Patriots have a plethora of mediocre veterans on the roster at the moment. Unless either team makes a few cuts, it seems unlikely either would go out of their way to take a chance on Wells.
Other options that came to mind were Green Bay, Cleveland and Kansas City, but that would only be if Wells was willing to warm the bench and serve as depth.