Matt Forte will make the J-E-T-S! Super Bowl contenders, dark horse Super Bowl contenders, but Super Bowl contenders nonetheless. Of course, that all depends on whether or not the team signs Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Take a snapshot at the Jets' last season record: 10 wins, six losses, 6-2 at home, 4-4 on the road. That is one win in each home and away category from the archrival and fellow AFC East New England Patriots 12-4 record of 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road. If the Jets would have won one more game, ideally the one they lost in the fourth quarter to the Bills where Fitz threw three picks on the last three possessions (also part of why he's not signed yet), the Jets would be in the playoffs and perhaps Ivory would still be their lead back. So perhaps it was destiny that the Jets with Fitz and Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker sensed the bitter taste of defeat to only become stronger mentally and vastly improved on the field with Forte in the backfield. All set up for the Jets to become the dark horse contender for the Lombardi Trophy.
Now, not only is Matt Forte a better running back than last year's number one Chris Ivory, Forte is also better at the intangibles like picking up the blitz and catching the football. He also provides the Jets with a lot of help in their short throws, because outside of Decker and Marshall, there isn't too much talent left at receiver, especially at tight end. Forte is just about the perfect fix at running back for the Jets offense. Is he enough to take them to a 12-win season, maybe 13, sorry Jets fans I won't toy with you, you've been through a lot over the years, but someone who is toying with Jets fans is the Jets front office and resident wiz kid quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Gary Myers of NY Daily News reports that the Jets have "raised ticket prices for 2016" adding, "there's no way they can lower expectations by starting Geno Smith." (Ouch)
Since Fitz doesn't seem to have any takers in the open market and the Jets seem better suited with him at the helm than Smith, it's time to get him signed, easier said than done, I'm sure. The Jets need to respect father time and his relation to Forte's 30 years on this earth, with eight of those being in the NFL. Even if Forte stays healthy, how many good years does he have left? Probably not enough to find a quarterback that suits B-Marsh and Decker the way Fitzpatrick does.
Here are the hard facts on Forte: Forte is not a "has been," but he has been in the league for eight seasons. In the last eight NFL seasons, Forte is the league's leader in yards from scrimmage. Forte is 30-years-old and he missed three games last season due to injury, posting his worst statistical season with 1,287 all-purpose yards and 7 total touchdowns – which is very respectable and on pace for elite if he hadn't missed those games.
Forte gives the Jets a whole new dimension on offense. The high-flying weapons of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker just got a boost with Forte on the team. Look for whoever the quarterback is, to have an extra second or two to throw the ball as Forte prides himself on being one of the league's best blocker. Forte is also an amazing check down support system for a QB. Given the fact that Fitz doesn't have a huge arm, when Marshall or Decker are not open, look for one of the best receiving RB's in the game to give opposing defense headaches in practice and on gameday.
It all comes down to that pesky contract dispute with Fitzpatrick for the Jets. Will upper management really take Fitz away from Marshall, Marshall being one of the team's biggest leaders, Marshall; the 10-year veteran who had his best season of his illustrious career last year with Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball. All I have to say is sorry, Geno. B-Marsh had 14 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards receiving last year. The Jets were one win shy of the playoffs. Give the Harvard-educated quarterback his money, get Marshall on the field, get good-guy Decker another 1,000 yard, 10-plus TD season, get Forte out there and lets here that "J-E-T-S!" chant give the 12th man a run for their money at MetLife stadium.
The last word goes on Forte's behalf. Matt Forte wears the same tank top to every practice. It has number 22 on the front, 22 on the back, and where the name should be, it's written "workhorse." Forte will make the Jets a better team this year on the field and in the locker room. Forte is a special player that will give the Jets a chance at the Lombardi this year. Get Fitz signed and make history New York.
[Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images]