FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Josh McCown isn’t the only 30-something Jet thinking about returning in 2018.
Like his 38-year-old quarterback, Matt Forte wants to be on an NFL roster next year despite continued swelling in his surgically repaired right knee and career lows in carries (82) and yards (325).
“When opportunities have been there, I’ve made the most of them,” Forte said. “I never question myself. I’m still playing at a high level when I’m able to play, and I think I can continue to do it.”
Forte, who will turn 32 Sunday, when the Jets visit the Broncos, has struggled at times just to get going this season. After he had only four carries in an Oct. 29 loss to the Falcons, he complained about the overall lack of commitment to the running game. Four nights later, Forte had a season-high 77 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdowns in a victory over the Bills. In the last three games, he also had double-digit carries, including a season-high 15 for 58 yards in Sunday’s win over the Chiefs.
The Jets’ renewed focus on the running game could be attributed to coordinator John Morton’s patience and Forte’s making plays within it. The Jets trailed the Chiefs 14-0 early, but Morton made sure he stayed on the ground with Forte and Bilal Powell (18 carries for 48 yards).
“I just stuck to the game plan and got certain play calls in the beginning of the game,” Morton said.
The Jets still believe in Forte’s ability while he deals with health issues. He won’t practice fully because of his knee; instead, he builds up his reps going into game day.
The 10-year veteran signed a three-year, $12-million free-agent deal, with $9 million guaranteed, in 2016. Last season, he rushed 218 times for 813 yards and seven touchdowns. He underwent surgery to repair a partial tear in his meniscus during the offseason and was able to return for the start of the season.
At times, things have played out pretty slowly for him. McCown, on the other hand, is having a career season.
“When Josh has an opportunity to play and make plays like that, he can do that,” Forte said. “The game isn’t too big for him or where he gets nervous. When the opportunity comes his way, he makes the most of it. He’s just been a consistent player, and it’s the mark of why he’s been in the league so long. Coaches and GMs know what they’re getting when they get a player like that.”
As McCown enters the late stages of his career, so does Forte, because few running backs last much beyond 30. The desire to play remains strong for Forte, but although he wants to be back next season, he will think about it before making a final decision.
“Yeah, it’s something you take into context with talking to your family and also look at the team and where we’re headed,” Forte said. “A lot of factors go into that. When I first came into the league, I said I’d like to play at least 10 years, and after that, you continue to assess every year.”