FB Jerald Sowell has quietly become a very important part of the Jets offense. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
While Jets RB Curtis Martin gets the accolades, it is FB Jerald Sowell who leads the way for Martin. Sowell brings many intangibles to the team including sure hands out of the backfield adding a potent weapon to Paul Hackett’s west coast offense and most importantly, his blocking has led to Martin getting off to a fast start this season.
Sowell and Martin have a great relationship.
“We have great chemistry,” Sowell said. “We study film together. He always knows what I’m thinking.”
Sowell was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 1997 draft but never played for the Packers as he was claimed off waivers on August 25, 1997 by the Jets.
For late-round draft picks, their best bet to make a team is on special teams and that’s exactly what Sowell did with the Jets. From 1997-2002, Sowell was one of the top contributors on special teams.
In 2000, he was the team’s leading special team’s tackler with 19. The following year, he registered 26 special teams tackles.
Sowell saw action in all 16 games as a reserve FB in 2002 and caught nine passes for 85 yards and a TD. Sowell also led the team with 37 tackles on kick coverage.
Besides being a special team’s ace, Sowell was the backup FB and waited patiently while learning from Richie Anderson. After 2002, Anderson ended his nine-years with the Jets to join Bill Parcells in Dallas.
Sowell finally got his turn and rose to the challenge as the starting FB, finishing second on the team with 47 receptions for 436 yards and a TD. Sowell also provided the lead blocking for Martin’s 1,308 rushing yards. Sowell continued to contribute on special teams with 22 tackles.
Martin is soft-spoken and doesn’t socialize with his teammates much off the field but him and Sowell are good friends off the field.
“We’ve slowly become best friends,” Martin said. “I don’t hang out much but he’s one of the guys I hang out with. He’s a great guy.”
This season, Sowell has rushed once for 19 yards and had three catches for 20 yards opening day against Cincinnati. Then against San Diego, Sowell caught five balls for 56 yards and a touchdown. Sowell is ready at all times.
With a laid back demeanor and a subdued Louisiana drawl, the Tulane alum is very confident yet modest about his contributions. “I try to make plays when my number is called and be the best at my position,” said Sowell.
The Jets are 2-0 and there is a more positive attitude around the locker room this season.
“We can’t help but have confidence when we’re 2-0,” Sowell said. “Now we just have to be consistent.”
One thing that has been consistent is Sowell’s blocking leading to Martin getting big yards and if that continues, the only way for the Jets to go is up. Without a doubt, Sowell has quietly become a very important cog in the Jets success.