Before the game against Denver, Coach Saleh confirmed that the shackles were coming off.

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Jets were careful to ease Breece back into action following the devastating ACL injury that cost him much of his rookie season.

While everyone was chomping at the bit to see Breece set free, the Jets played the long game, understanding that it was vital to limit and monitor his usage in order to allow him to build strength and confidence in his surgically repaired knee.

Despite a 100+ yard performance in the opening weekend win against Buffalo, Breece was given just 32 carries over a four week period, before being handed the rock 22 times on Sunday against the Broncos.

Some of that was down to game script with the Jets falling behind early to the Chiefs and Cowboys, but a lot of it had to do with load management. As Saleh said so often through the preseason, the Jets had to protect Breece from himself, with the second year star keen to get back into the action.

There are always narratives and storylines in the NFL. As it transpired, Breece was let loose on the same turf that caused him so much pain 12 months ago. If you’ve seen the exceptional Breece Hall documentary, you’ll understand all the sweat, tears, frustration and dedication that goes into the recovery from a major injury. So it was hardly surprising that Breece walked off the field with a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Despite that load management, Breece has rushed for 387 yards already this season, good for the sixth highest mark in football. His 7.2 average yards per rush is the third highest mark in football for players who have had 20+ rush attempts, and his 77.4 rushing yards per game is still a top-10 mark in football. When you’ve been held on a leash and performed at a top-10 rate, you know good things are going to happen when that leash is relaxed.

Breece averaged 8.0 yards on 22 attempts on Sunday for 177 yards and a touchdown, showcasing all the traits that convinced the Jets to trade up and draft him in 2022. I’m not one for sending thank you cards, but every time Breece takes to the field I am grateful that the New York Giants agreed to move down in that draft, allowing the Jets to move up to pick 36 and select Breece.

Football is a team game and rushing the ball effectively requires unity and cohesion. From the QB handoff, to the linemen doing the grunt work, to the fullback and receivers blocking on the second level. But Breece is that unique specimen who combines two key attributes. One, he always makes the right decision in relation to his cuts and two, he can create on his own when he has to.

For his touchdown against Denver, it was poetry in motion with Joe Tippmann pinning his man inside and Laken Tomlinson pulling and sealing the outside. Breece still had to showcase that 4.39 pace to run away from multiple defenders, but that was the kind of run that Keith Carter will be enjoying this week, with the line executing the play to perfection and the star runner doing the rest.

On multiple other occasions, Breece was set to be met in the hole by a defender. But his ability to juke, to move laterally and then plant and explode made him near impossible to tackle cleanly. His average of 4.80 rushing yards after contact is a testament to this, as is his six plays of 15+ yards on the ground, a number that’s good for second in the league.

The Jets showcased the winning formula on Sunday and it involved a heavy workload for Breece. That season high 22-carry mark against Denver could be surpassed again over the coming weeks, and while teams know the Jets want to feed Breece the ball, stopping it is another matter. Especially with an offensive line that is starting to gel, albeit now forced to replace the injured Alijah Vera-Tucker; one of the very best run-blockers in the game.

There were a lot of positives to come from Denver, but Breece being back to his very best form may be the biggest one.