We all knew the New York Jets 2017 season had low expectations, but was still a vital one for growth and the future. Building any team through the draft is a slow process. Practices lack the true speed and intensity of games, and these young players need time to develop through valuable game reps.
If the goal for 2017 was to continue to establish a young core of players, why are the Jets continuing to give Matt Forte so many reps?
In a rebuild season, and likely Forte’s last with the team, it makes sense to put him on the backburner. Powell and McGuire look more explosive and need more opportunities. Forte saw 27 snaps against the Raiders and was productive on nine carries for 53 yards, however he should not be seeing more work than the younger backs. Powell had only six carries for 13 yards on 18 snaps. We all know what Powell can do when given a chance, finishing second in yards per carry, and third in yards after contact in 2016. Eli McGuire was used in the rushing attack as well, seeing 11 snaps with six carries for 29 yards. This was a nice step after not seeing any carries in Buffalo
Powell and McGuire remain the younger options that are likely a part of 2018. In a year that is all about the future, it is time to turn the page on Forte and insert younger legs on the field. Powell is set to turn 29 next month, so his window is closing, but can still be a featured back when healthy. McGuire will likely be more involved as the season goes on, as he remains a potential long-term answer at the position. With the offensive line beginning to gel, the only way to find out McGuire’s true potential is to feed him with carries.
Simply put, it would be a wasted opportunity if Forte remains the starting running back. Take advantage of this season to build and plan for the future. Last season in many ways was a lost year as underperforming veterans took valuable playing time away from young players on the roster. Now is the opportunity for the Jets to let players like McGuire take their lumps and find out what they have going forward.