The Jets offense were on fire against the Bills in week two, and with three touchdowns in that game, Matt Forte is cementing his position as a key weapon. His 196 yards over the first two games rank him fourth in the league in rushing and contribute greatly to the Jets entering week three ranking fourth in total offense. Unsurprisingly, he was awarded Fed Ex Ground Player of the Week for his triple touchdown performance.
Following his impressive showing in Buffalo, Forte was described this week by Bart Scott as being like ‘Benjamin Button’; getting better and better with age. Scott pointed to Forte’s vision and ability to let plays develop as key to his success; applying his experience to his advantage. He certainly appears to have found a new lease of life in Chan Gailey’s offense, alongside his long time compatriot Brandon Marshall. Marshall, who played with Forte for several seasons in Chicago, said that Forte appeared to be playing the best he’d ever seen him. Marshall also touts Forte as the best all round back in the league and his early performances certainly seem to indicate his versatility:
“He does it all. He picks up blitzes, he puts his nose in there, he catches the ball out of the backfield. He has amazing vision. He’s a leader. He’s the type of guy you want in your locker room” Marshall said.
Forte’s superior route running, pass catching and blocking abilities certainly stand him out as one of the most complete backs in the league. The stats tell the story; since entering the NFL in 2008, no player has tallied more yards from scrimmage than him. LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Watters and Hall of Famers Curtis Martin and Barry Sanders are the only other players to total at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage in each of their first eight seasons.
Its only early days but this year’s stats show that Forte is indeed rejuvenated following a difficult 2015 in Chicago where he missed several games due to a knee injury. In only two games with the Jets, Forte has already had about 1/4 of the total number of carries he had in 13 games last year on a Chicago team that finished 6-10. He still racked up over 800 yards last season, but if he continues to be as successful as he was against Buffalo, he is well on track to surpass the 1,000 yard mark for the sixth time in his career.
However, the Jets do need to be careful not to overuse him, and risk a mid season breakdown the likes of which happened to Chris Ivory last year. So far, Forte has been on the field for 78.8% of snaps this year, with 59 touches. He is used to such usage, racking up a similar percentage of snaps from 2013-2015 with the Bears. There is a wealth of research regarding the age at which running backs tend to decline and Forte, at 31, is definitely within that bracket. It’ll be key that the Jets do everything possible to keep him healthy, so he can continue to have the impact he has had so far. Along with Marshall, Decker and a resurgent Quincy Enunwa, Forte is key to ensuring that the Jets offense remains as dynamic as it has started out.
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