Dalvin Cook To Visit New York: How Does the 4x Pro Bowler Fit the Jets’ Offense?

Dalvin Cook is set to visit the New York Jets this weekend. But how does the free agent running back fit the Jets' scheme, and do they have room for him?

Dalvin Cook is set to jet for New York City Florham Park, New Jersey. Over the weekend, the four-time Pro Bowl RB will visit the New York Jets, with both player and team eyeing a potentially deep playoff run in a daunting AFC. But how does Cook fit into the roster as it’s currently constructed, and how would he fit the Jets’ offense?

Dalvin Cook Is a Perfect Fit for the New York Jets’ Rushing Attack

There is a new face calling plays in New Jersey this season. Nathaniel Hackett joins the Jets as the offensive coordinator after failing as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. However, one has absolutely no bearing on the other. Despite an utterly embarrassing go at head coaching, there is no denying the efficiency Hackett found offensively as Green Bay’s OC.

The biggest thing to look at with Cook’s fit in New York is what kind of rushing attack Hackett brings to the table. If we were to boil down Hackett’s rushing philosophy to a single entity, it would be “outside zone.”

From 2019-2021, when Aaron Jones and Hackett were together in Green Bay, Jones attempted 446 zone runs to just 157 gap runs. That’s a 74% rate compared to his 66.3% rate a season ago in Green Bay.

That is great news for Cook, who might be the league’s best outside-zone runner. He’s been an assassin throughout his career outside of the tackles. The long-developing stretch plays allow Cook to be patient and manipulate second-level defenders on his way to open space.

And while it certainly takes talent and execution on the offensive line to find consistent success running the ball, Cook has the ability to break off explosive runs outside the tackle, particularly when he’s not hampered by a nagging shoulder injury, which he finally had surgery to fix this past offseason.

Do the Jets Have Room for Dalvin Cook?

This is where things become fascinating. We just spent time oogling over Cook’s snug fit in Hackett’s zone-rushing attack. However, is it worth it for New York to bring in a veteran coming off shoulder surgery with what they already have in the backfield?

That’s the question that will be answered by how much of an improvement the organization might think Cook is over Michael Carter or by Breece Hall’s healthy, or lack thereof.

Carter, like Cook, flourished in outside-zone concepts at the University of North Carolina. He was also a teammate to Javonte Williams in college, who Hackett was exposed to while in Denver. Williams often took care of the gap-scheme runs at UNC, while Carter showed off his vision and creativity in OZ looks.

But it’s also tough to look at Carter’s production from a season ago and think, “yeah, that’s good enough.” The spread-out rushing attack should help Carter get back on his feet, but Cook has proven an elite runner in such an offense, while Carter hasn’t done it as much since college.

This is where the RB market is so beneficial to teams. Saquon Barkley just took a one-year deal at just slightly over the franchise tag number of $10.1 million. No running back in free agency made over $6.25 million annually. It’s now nearly August, and Cook is coming off shoulder surgery and has over 1,500 career touches. Not to mention Aaron Rodgers just took a significant pay cut.

Breece Hall is on PUP, and even though he’s looking healthy out there, he’s not yet ready to get back on the field. It’ll be over 10 months since Hall’s ACL tear when the Jets take the field in Week 1, so he could be ready.

But because he’s not ready yet and Carter had an underwhelming season in 2022, it makes perfect sense to bring in the veteran runner at the right price. And if Cook is productive and explosive enough to steal snaps from Carter, the move would be worth it.

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