The New York Jets have added versatile running back in Matt Forte this offseason that in the grand scheme of things, is an upgrade over Chris Ivory.
With the departure of running back Chris Ivory, the rushing attack of the New York Jets heading into 2016 was in question. Who would step in to fill the shoes of one of the most physically imposing running backs in the NFL? The Jets decided to answer that question by signing running back Matt Forte. Forte isn’t necessarily known for being a physical running back but there is no doubt he is a talented player with tremendous burst and an exceptional ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Does that mean the Jets actually upgraded at running back?
First, let’s look at the numbers. Ivory had 1,070 yards with seven touchdowns on 247 rushes which averaged to 4.3 yards per carry. He also had 30 receptions for 217 yards and one touchdown. Ivory did battle some injuries a year ago but last year was arguably his breakout season.
Forte on the other hand had 898 yards and four touchdowns on 218 rushes. He did however have 44 catches for 389 yards and three touchdowns. Like Ivory, Forte did battle injuries and he did have competition for reps from running back Jeremy Langford who shined in Forte’s absence.
Relatively speaking, the stats are pretty even for Ivory and Forte. So is Forte an upgrade? I would say yes for two reasons.
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First, Forte’s ability to catch out of the backfield completely changes the dynamic of the Jets’ offense.
We’ve seen the impact that dynamic running backs who contribute in the running and passing game can have on a team.
It really complicates things for defenses.
Ivory isn’t known for his contributions in the passing game and he isn’t really built to run screens or line up on the line of scrimmage.
Forte is undeniably more versatile and he has made a career off of making plays with his legs and his hands.
The second reason is the Jets don’t really have any weapons outside of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The Jets have looked for another receiver or a tight end to help spread the field for Marshall and Decker but have been unsuccessful in finding one. Forte will come right in and provide whoever the quarterback is for the Jets a great option underneath or a good insurance option under pressure.
Both Ivory and Forte are tremendous running backs and the Jacksonville Jaguars should be very excited to have added Ivory to their young roster. However, the more experienced Forte is all-around a better running back because of his versatility and explosiveness. Even with the new addition, the Jets will look to continue being one of the most successful rushing attacks in the NFL.