Has Matt Forte become too unreliable?
By Michael Henken
The New York Jets had high hopes for veteran running back Matt Forte when they signed him in March of 2016, but due to injuries, has he now become too unreliable?
Although he had slowed down a bit in the years leading up to his signing with the New York Jets, the 31-year-old Matt Forte is nothing short of an established and successful NFL running back. During his time in Chicago with the Bears, which took place from 2008 to 2016, Forte rushed for over 1,000 yards on five different occasions, while making the Pro Bowl team twice.
After losing Chris Ivory, who handled the majority of the Jets’ carries in 2015, the team was looking to fill a void in the backfield, and while Forte appeared to be a suitable option, he likely hasn’t panned out how team officials had hoped he would.
During the 2016 season, Forte carried the ball 218 times, serving as the primary rusher for the Jets, although Bilal Powell was given 131 attempts of his own. Despite carrying the ball 87 times more than Powell, Forte totaled less than 100 yards more than his younger counterpart.
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In fact, Forte’s 813 rushing yards was a career-low for him in terms of yards per season. Obviously, it wasn’t his strongest season and he spent the tail-end of it on the injured reserve dealing with a knee injury.
Perhaps it was just an off year for him though.
The only issue, however, is that he hasn’t started 2017 out too strong either. Due to a hamstring injury, Forte hasn’t practiced since July 31 and he hasn’t played a single down of football through two preseason games.
According to a report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini, head coach Todd Bowles isn’t even certain that Forte will be ready for the season opener. At this point, it’s unclear whether or not the Jets can count on Forte, and if they can’t, what should they do next?
It’s no secret that the Jets are in a rebuilding year. With an extremely young team and questions on both sides of the ball, Gang Green doesn’t seem poised for an impressive season. Because of that, Forte doesn’t serve as a ‘do-or-die’ player for the Jets, which is why the team should consider putting more focus on Powell.
The 28-year-old Powell rushed for 722 yards and three touchdowns last year. At his age, he likely still has a few solid years left in him, but he needs to be given a bigger role. During the preseason thus far, Powell has rushed for 32 yards on only nine attempts.
The Jets need to put the pressure on him and see how he reacts. There’s no other way to see if Powell is a reliable back, and there’s no better time than now to find out.
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