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Did Jets improve at running back?

Dec 27, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Chicago Bears defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Chicago Bears defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets had a ton of turnover in the backfield during the 2016 off-season. But the big question is did the Jets improve at running back?

The New York Jets entered the 2016 offseason with only one running back on the roster (Zac Stacy, recovering from a broken ankle). Fast forward a few weeks into the free agency period and the Jets saw Chris Ivory bolt to Jacksonville on a big money deal.

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While Stevan Ridley and his tattoo only lasted one season in green and white, he ended up signing with the Detroit Lions. The Jets retained Bilal Powell and added two new runners to the fold in Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson.

The Jets finished 10th in the league in rushing last season, but can they continue that trend in 2016? For the Jets to succeed next season they’re going to need to focus on rushing the football.

Earlier this offseason, I got to speak with Jets’ team reporter Eric Allen of www.newyorkjets.com and I asked him this very question. Did the Jets improve in the backfield? Here’s what he had to say:

EA said what is obvious, we won’t really know until the season commences and we see these guys in pads. But it doesn’t hurt to look at last season as a barometer and see what the Jets are getting.

Chris Ivory 2015 stats:

ATT   YDS    AVG TD REC

247 1,070  4.3   7   30

It was Ivory’s first 1,000 yard campaign and he did it in 15 games. Ivory battled injuries and fatigue due to the workload all season. How did Forte fair last season?

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Matt Forte 2015 stats:

ATT   YDS  AVG TD REC

218  898   4.1    4    44

When you look at it, both running backs battled injuries last season and had arguably equitable seasons. But the major difference is Forte’s prowess in the receiving game.

Forte has over 480 receptions in his illustrious career while Ivory has managed a paltry 53 receptions. In Chan Gailey’s high octane offense, it’s much better suited for a guy like Forte.

Jets’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall is close with Forte and perhaps that affected his bias when he was talking to NJ Advance Media. Marshall was asked about his new teammate and he raved about his abilities to reporter Darryl Slater:

“This is a guy that, to me, over the past eight years has been the best all-around back our league has had,” Marshall told NJ Advance Media. “I think it’s going to be a treat for all of New York to just sit back and watch him really work.

“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.”

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Since entering the NFL out of Tulane in 2008, no player has tallied more yards from scrimmage than Forte’s 12,718. Not only can Forte do it all, he came at a much cheaper rate. Ivory signed a five-year deal with a max value of $35M dollars. Overall, Forte is an upgrade over Ivory and should prove that the Jets improved their running back corps dramatically heading into the regular season.

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