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Matt Forte: Inexperienced Jets not tanking in 2017

New York Jets running back Matt Forte speaks

New York Jets running back Matt Forte speaks to reporters in the locker room after organized team activities practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Think the Jets are tanking in 2017?

Well, think again, said Matt Forte.

While outsiders assume the front office wants to “Stink for Sam” — Darnold, the USC quarterback, that is — or risk going 0-16 for a shot at UCLA’s Jake Rosen, Forte defended the Jets’ roster Wednesday. He also delivered a message to the non-believers.

“It’s a good thing we don’t operate off of what the fans think and what everybody on the outside thinks,” the running back said before the second of three minicamp practices. “What we think as a team, that’s what’s going to happen. And none of us on the team thinks that we’re going to tank.

“So all I have to say about that is: Bring it.”

After a mass exodus of older players this offseason — a result of the organization’s desire to clear salary-cap space — Forte, 31, is one of only four Jets 30 or older. But despite the lack of experience, he seemed somewhat miffed when asked if the Jets’ roster, as is, is talented enough to be competitive this season.

“I mean, what kind of question is that? Do you want me to say no?” asked Forte, who rushed for 813 yards and seven touchdowns during the Jets’ 5-11 season last year.

“This is a professional football team, and we have athletes on this team. In this league, it’s not about the team that has the most talent.

“It’s about the guys who have a brotherhood together,” added Forte, whose $4 million base salary in 2017 is guaranteed. “They play on the field, not next to each other, they play for each other. They make sacrifices on the field so other guys can make plays. And that’s the kind of culture that we’ve been creating throughout the offseason here.”

Coach Todd Bowles also dismissed the notion that the Jets are in tank mode.

“Lucky for me, I don’t read the media,” he said Tuesday, “but my expectations are high and the team’s expectations are high, and that’s really all that counts.”

How high?

“I’m trying to get to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl,’’ Bowles said. “It’s no different than any other year.”

The Jets said goodbye to decades of experience when they released David Harris, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Nick Folk and Breno Giacomini. But they do have a respected veteran at a key position: quarterback Josh McCown, who sees plenty of positives on the field and behind closed doors in Florham Park.

“It seems like a young team, but it’s the right mix to me because you do have the right veterans that are able to pull guys along and bring us together,” McCown said.

“I’ve really enjoyed this spring. It’s been, for me, one of the more enjoyable ones, just because of how people have come together. I think there’s great value in that sometimes. You have a bunch of young guys that go, ‘Let’s just come together and do what they ask us to do,’ and that are in it the first time, so you want to show them the first time. Coach Bowles has done a great job of laying that out for us this spring, and now it’s up to us to follow it.”


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