The New York Jets needed a premier halfback after Chris Ivory bolted via free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, running back Matt Forte may only prove to be a short-term solution for Gang Green.
Veteran Pro Bowl-caliber halfbacks with a chip on their shoulder rarely just fall into a team’s lap. Yet, in the case of the New York Jets, this happened twice in the past six years.
In his prime, running back LaDainian Tomlinson was touted as the most versatile offensive threat in the NFL. A Madden-esque 2,323-yard, 31-touchdown season resulted in Tomlinson being named the 2006 NFL MVP, cementing himself as a surefire Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Just five years later, however, Tomlinson was released by the San Diego Chargers following the worst statistical season of his career: 884 total yards and 12 touchdowns.
The 31-year-old, dead set on capturing at least one Super Bowl ring before calling it quits, was forced to weigh his options. To Tomlinson, the Jets, coming off of a trip to the 2009 AFC Championship, seemed like his best bet.
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This season, fans are experiencing an eerily similar tale.
Running back Matt Forte, the former face of the Chicago Bears, hit free agency after racking up 12,718 yards and 64 touchdowns in the “Windy City.”
The 30-year-old top-tier back is now currently in the “Big Apple,” guaranteed $9M.
A major concern lies in one key factor: health.
An MCL injury made Tomlinson’s tenure with Gang Green a flash in the pan, which, if history repeats itself, doesn’t bode well for Forte. Having already been released by the Bears due to nagging knee issues, Forte missed the Jets’ preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to a tweaked hamstring.
Sure, the verdict is still out on Forte, and, undoubtedly, he may flourish alongside quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and company. However, if his time in New York amounts to a messy, so-so two-year tenure, this article will explain the resulting déjà vu for long-time Jets fans.