New York Jets Running Backs End of Season Review

27 AUG 2016: New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs during the preseason game between the New York Jets and the New York Giants played at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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During the 2016 off-season, the New York Jets lost Chris Ivory who spent three solid years with the team. In 2015 he had the best season of his career which resulted in his first Pro Bowl selection. Mike Maccagnan needed to find a top running back to replace him and he did when he signed Matt Forte. Forte joined Bilal Powell in the backfield to create a solid Jets running back duo.

New York Jets Running Backs End of Season Review

Matt Forte

Forte came to East Rutherford, New Jersey with a terrific pedigree. In eight NFL seasons he eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards five times and 400 receiving yards six times. In terms of total yardage, his worst season came in 2015 when he had 1,287 yards.

Clearly Forte had talent, but what made him risky for the Jets was his age. He was 30 at the beginning of the season. The fact that he missed three games in 2015 due to an MCL sprain also did not help things.

Forte finished the season with 218 rushes for 813 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes on 43 targets for a total of 263 yards and a touchdown.

In terms of yards from scrimmage, this was his worst season as he had 1,076 yards. In terms of total touchdowns, this was his fifth worst season.

That isn’t factoring in the matter of games played, however. His numbers were obviously lower because he missed two games; the third most amount of games he has missed in a season. The fact that he had to leave due to a knee injury after three rushing attempts in Week 14 and that he played through that injury in Week 15 means his numbers could’ve been better if healthy.

After Week 14 Forte learned that his knee injury was a torn meniscus. He figured that he had it all season, but aggravated it against the San Francisco 49ers. After playing in Week 15, he missed the final two games of the season and received arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of December.

The worst part of Forte’s season was health rather than production. While he did produce lower than what he has in the past, his numbers in 2016 were acceptable at his age.

Bilal Powell

Powell entered his sixth season with the Jets and had his best season to date. He set career highs in rushing yards with 722, receptions with 58, scrimmage yards with 1,110, and total touchdowns with five. He also tied a career high with receiving yards with 388 and receiving touchdowns with two.

What was most impressive with Powell’s season was the fact that he did this in limited playing time. From Week One to 13, he averaged 4.08 attempts per game. It was not until Forte started dealing with his torn meniscus that Powell got a respectable workload. It was those last four games of the season in which Powell was one of the best running backs in the NFL.

In the final four games of the season, Powell rushed 82 times for 411 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air he made 21 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown.

When given the chance, Powell succeeded. He also helped make history in 2016 as he and Forte became the first running back duo in Jets franchise history to accumulate over 1,000 yards from scrimmage apiece in a single season.


Forte and Powell combined for 349 of the 418 rushing attempts (83.49%) by Jets players in 2016. With 40 more of those attempts coming from quarterbacks, it goes to show that the Jets relied mainly on Forte and Powell at the running back position.

Brandon Wilds got the third most rushing attempts at the position with 10. He had 27 yards with those 10 attempts in four games. That was in the last four games of the season after Forte went down with his knee injury.

They did have Khiry Robinson and C.J. Spiller on the team, but they combined for only five games, 11 attempts, and 31 yards.

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