Matt Forte has certainly lived up to his nickname. The "Workhorse" has been busy during his first nine games with the Jets, ranking fourth in the NFL in rush attempts with 169 and eighth in yards on the ground with 634.
"This week and after the bye moving forward, I just want to make the most out of those carries. I had a couple games of 30 carries and I was averaging under four yards a carry, which isn't that good. If you're getting 30 carries, you want to have 150-200 yards," said Forté this week. "So I'm focusing on that aspect of the running game"
Forté has reached the 100-yard mark on two occasions, carrying the ball 30 times in Week 2 and Week 7 wins over the Bills and the Ravens. He amassed 73 yards on the ground in one half against the Dolphins last Sunday, breaking free for a 31-yard score in the first quarter and adding a season-long 32-yarder in the second quarter. Forté finished with 92 yards on 12 attempts, pushing his yards per carry average up to 3.8 yards in 2016.
"The best run plays are the ones that are designed when you have to read them, especially if you have good vision," he said of the 32-yarder. "So that one really wasn't designed to go outside or inside, it's wherever the defense isn't. When I get the ball, there were a couple double teams going on and they were working up the 'backers so it's good to be patient. If the linebacker hits it downhill, I can look outside to see who's there and he overflows the play, there might be a cutback. That particular play, he shot the gap and they were able to get to him. Jalin came down and blocked the safety and I was able to bounce it outside of him and get to some of the open field."
Despite the Jets' well-documented red zone struggles, the 6'2", 218-pound Forté ranks T5 NFL in rushing touchdowns (7). With a TD vs. the Rams, Forté will have the first four-game scoring run of his career.
"It would be huge. In this league, consistency is what you want the most," he said. "To go four consecutive games with a score would be that and obviously we need to score points to win the game. More than just for personal reasons of breaking the (personnel) record of consecutive games, just for the team to be able to score points and let the defense do their job would be huge."
Forté has never reached double-digits in terms of rush TDs. While his previous career high was nine with the Bears in 2013, Forté is on pace for 12 rush TDs in 2016. He could help the Jets get out of their red zone malaise, but the Rams are as talented a front as the Jets reshuffled line will face.
"I mean that's mostly what the fantasy owners look at," he said of the scoring numbers. "In the red zone, that's the hardest thing to do, both run and pass because it's a shorter field. So you're kind of in-between what do you do. When you're down there, they can stack the box a little bit because it's a shorter field and no one is going to beat 'em deep because it would be out of bounds. That's a testament to the offensive line and also us being able to execute if we can run the ball effectively in the red zone and score touchdowns."
The 30-year-old Forté, who signed with the Jets in March following eight seasons with the Bears, wanted to join a contender in free agency. But the Jets are just 3-6 as they look to go on a run at home with three straight at MetLife Stadium, beginning with LA.
"I'm not down in the dumps or anything on how the season is going, I'm trying to keep everybody's head up because they might not have been in this position before," he said. "Or maybe they have and they don't know how to handle it. But the main thing to do is take what you do on the practice field out to the game. That means practicing hard not in so much physically, but speed wise and knowing what you're doing on every play. I was talking to Coach Bowles earlier and we were saying how important technique is because small problems become big problems. If you don't take care of those small things, then they become big problems in the game and they add up."