Florham Park, N.J. - The New York Jets have been known for their running game over the past decade or so. Just last year they had Chris Ivory, who was 5th in the NFL in rushing yards. Before him, it was hard-nosed runner Shonn Greene. Before that, New York was lucky enough to land one of the greatest running backs of all time in LaDainian Tomlinson. Before LT, the Jets traded with the Chicago Bears for Thomas Jones where he spent the best years of his career in the Big Apple. Before him, Leon Washington, one of the all-time great returners, led the backfield. Then to begin the 2000s, it was New York's greatest running back of all-time Curtis Martin that held it down. Now, the Jets have another amazing running back in Matt Forte.
Throughout training camp, Forte was out or limited due to a hamstring injury. He did not appear at all in the first two preseason games. However, Forte made his Jets debut in preseason game three against the Giants. In the loss, he had ten carries for 28 yards and two catches for nine yards. Right away in his first game action, Forte was being utilized often.
Week one against the Cincinnati Bengals comes around, and the floodgates are opened. Even though he didn't score a touchdown, the damage was done. Forte had 22 carries for 96 yards and five catches (seven targets) for 59 yards totaling 155 yards. In Points Per Reception fantasy football leagues, Forte was 10th in scoring for running backs. It seemed as if every other time he touched the ball it was broken off for a big gain. Forte lowered his shoulder and ran right through defenders while at the same time showing off his speed and elusiveness in getting around them. The last time Forte had that many total yards was week four of the 2015 NFL season. The last time he had that many touches was two weeks later.
Overall, Forte was the best offensive player on the field for the Jets. Brandon Marshall was no where to be found with three catches while Eric Decker only had two but had a touchdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked sloppy on the field. Quincy Enunwa emerged as the wide out leader with seven catches for 54 yards and one touchdown.
Even with their individual struggles week one, the New York offense is the perfect for Forte to have a bounce back season after have a career-worst year in 2015. The Jets have too many options on offense for defenses to hone in on. Marshall and Decker are the main focuses of the secondary. Then throw in Enunwa breaking out and there causes some problems. Jalin Marshall didn't have a catch but drew two big penalties and did a lot of damage on special teams. Forte has proven he can still do damage running the ball and catching. Also factor in Bilal Powell, who has shown he can do both run and catch, and defenses won't know where to go. If they expect a run, Forte can catch out of the backfield for a big gain. If the defense expects pass, Forte can have some room to make defenders miss. This offense is going to keep defenses true.
Bottom line is this: Matt Forte is the best player on the offensive side of the ball for the Jets. He can do it all and when need be, he will do it all. Without Forte, New York is sitting between 6-10 and 8-8. With Forte, the Jets will be no worse than 9-7. He can be the reason that Gang Green is in the playoffs.