The rushing attack of the New York Jets in 2017 left much to the imagination. Besides injuries and a steep decline in performance, then offensive coordinator John Morton didn’t use common football sense. Here’s their final report card grade.
Before last season began, there was hope that running back Bilal Powell would seize the moment and make a name for himself as a potential starter. Matt Forte was coming back and even though he lost a step, was figured to be used as a quality backup and in situations that enabled him to be used as an eligible receiver out of the backfield. Then, of course, the New York Jets just drafted Elijah McGuire who had an impressive resume in college that had the potential to also contribute in 2017.
What was the final result? Well, the Jets opted to focus more on their passing game then consistently establish the run as a common theme throughout the season. Former offensive coordinator John Morton didn’t listen to common football sense and in games whether in the rain or against opponents that struggled against the run, didn’t use his three-headed beast properly.
Powell led the pack statistically, even though one would argue he was underutilized all season long. In 2017, Powell totaled 772 rushing yards, 178 rushes, and five touchdowns. Forte was the second-best running back on the Jets last season but unfortunately, was given too many reps at the position considering that it would have been best to give McGuire more opportunities thanks to everything he brought to the table.
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Forte totaled 381 rushing yards, 103 rushes, and a touchdown. Forte dealt with a lingering knee injury for the majority of the season but regardless, wasn’t effective enough to warrant getting so many reps considering that McGuire, again, had more upside to be a difference-maker in a football game.
Speaking of McGuire, he totaled 315 rushing yards, 88 rushes, and a touchdown. The rookie showed signs of brilliance in his monster game in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars as to which he totaled 93 rushing yards and scored his only touchdown of the year. Why Morton didn’t give more opportunities to McGuire based on what he’s capable of doing is beyond comprehension, which was probably one of the many reasons the Jets decided to part ways with him this offseason.
Overall, the running back corps of the Jets didn’t live up to expectations with a major hand in the fact that Morton simply didn’t use the ground game effectively or as much as he should have. You know it’s not working properly if quarterback Josh McCown has five rushing touchdowns on the year which is as much as your top running back.