FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Matt Forte won’t be grounded after saying the New York Jets should have used the ground game more.
The veteran running back said he spoke Monday to offensive coordinator John Morton and coach Todd Bowles about his critical comments Sunday. Forte added that Morton was “very open-minded” during their brief discussion.
After New York’s 25-20 loss to Atlanta, Forte said the Jets “strayed” from the game plan — which was to run the ball in the rainy conditions at MetLife Stadium.
“Yeah, I spoke with both of them,” Forte said Monday in the locker room. “Really, we didn’t spend too much time on it. We just talked about some ways to help us win football games. Then, we went on to Buffalo.”
Forte finished with just 7 yards on four carries, while New York totaled 43 yards on 22 attempts — for a paltry 2 yards per run. Bilal Powell led the Jets with 33 yards on 14 carries. Elijah McGuire had one run for 2 yards, and wide receiver Robby Anderson gained 1 yard on an end-around.
“Our game plan was fine,” Bowles said.
Forte said he expected one of the running backs to get at least 20 carries, and thought moving away from the run-heavy approach hurt the Jets.
“It’s always good to be open-minded,” Forte said when asked if he appreciated Morton’s approach to their conversation. “I’m open-minded, as well. The main goal for me, as well as the coaches, is to win games, and that’s what we’re trying to find out, ways to do that.”
When a reporter asked another follow-up question, Forte bristled.
“You have any questions about Thursday, the Buffalo game?” he said. “Because this is like kind of over with. It’s overkill.”
Bowles downplayed Forte’s comments, saying the running back’s emotions got the better of him after the Jets’ third straight loss.
“It’s just frustration after the ballgame,” Bowles said. “We got down late. We had to throw the ball. But we ran the ball, and we’ll continue to run the ball.”
Although Forte said he spoke to Bowles, the coach said there was “no need” to talk to him about his comments.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Bowles said. “People are going to say things. Me and Matt have a good understanding. We’re fine.”
When pressed on whether he was OK with Forte making those comments, Bowles made it clear he was moving on.
“I think it’s a waste of my time to even talk about it,” the coach said tersely.
The Jets (3-5) enter their game Thursday night against the Bills (5-2) ranked 23rd in overall offense, including a running game that is tied for 22nd. New York’s passing offense hasn’t been much better, ranking 23rd in the league.
Quarterback Josh McCown echoed Forte’s sentiments that Morton, in his first season as an offensive coordinator, is receptive to input from players on how to improve the unit.
“Johnny Mo’s great,” McCown said. “That’s what makes him a good coach, when you can listen to guys, but he also has his plan, his idea of how he wants things to go. He stands by his convictions, but at the same time, he understands and is willing to hear our suggestions and he makes that open to us all the time. I think that’s great, that’s a great dynamic.”
McCown ranks third in the NFL with a 70.5 completion percentage, and has a league-leading 75.6 completion percentage on third down. He thinks the offense is still very much a work-in-progress under Morton.
“Every week (his goal) is to give us the best chance to run plays and he grinds tirelessly to get that done, he and all those coaches, and we appreciate that,” McCown said. “We’re growing and learning each other, and I think we’ll continue to see that bear more fruit as we go.”
NOTES: FB Lawrence Thomas has already been ruled out vs. the Bills with a concussion. … CB Morris Claiborne has what Bowles said is a “sore foot” and could play Thursday night. X-rays were negative and an MRI showed no structural damage after the Jets’ top cornerback left Sunday’s game. … CB Buster Skrine remains in the concussion protocol and it’s uncertain if he will miss a second straight game. … DL Ed Stinson (neck), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder, foot), TE Jordan Leggett (knee) and S Terrence Brooks (hamstring) did not practice. OT Brent Qvale was limited with a toe ailment. Forte (knee) and RT Brandon Shell (neck) were also limited. … Forte on whether he thinks he could be traded before Tuesday afternoon’s deadline: “It hasn’t come up. I think that’s just something the media, or you guys, kind of think would be a smart move that gets headlines read or something like that. Nobody has come to me about that.” … Bowles said the headsets on the Jets’ sideline malfunctioned during the Falcons’ first touchdown play, Austin Hooper’s 1-yard catch in the first quarter. The coach said that was the only time they were affected, and said the weather probably played a role. Bowles added that Atlanta also experienced an issue with its headsets. “Matt Ryan was running over to the sidelines,” he said. “So it was about three or four plays where the weather played a part for both (teams).”
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