Matt Forte griped about the New York Jets abandoning the running game in last Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In Thursday night's shellacking of the Buffalo Bills, offensive coordinator John Morton listened to his running back.
Jets running backs earned 36 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the 34-21 victory over the Bills, to just 20 pass attempts for quarterback Josh McCown, who also added five scampers for 13 yards and a touchdown.
"We had some difficulties and some frustrations on a short week and addressed them on Monday, and then come out on a Thursday game and come out and run the ball like we did ... we did a great job of that," Forte said, via the New York Post. "Kudos to coach Johnny Mo of sticking with the run like he promised that he would do."
Coming off a loss in which they called 33 passes to 22 runs, the Jets flipped the script. An early lead certainly aided the running script, but New York's formations also spoke to a concerted effort to run the ball.
According to Next Gen Stats, in Week 9 the Jets lined up in shotgun on less than 25 percent of offensive plays, a dramatic drop from their Weeks 1-8 average of 47 percent. Instead, the team relied on singleback and I-formations to run the ball. Morton shifted from heavy usage of 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR), to more 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR), than previous weeks. New York also used six offensive linemen on 23 percent of plays Thursday night after not utilizing the blocker-heavy formation much at all in previous weeks.
The moves allowed Forte, Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire to pound the ball consistently. Forte looked elusive and fresh on a short week, after having just four totes Sunday, earning 14 carries for 77 yards and two scores. Powell broke tackles en route to a 74-yard, 9-carry day. And McGuire added 30 yards on 13 carries.
"We played to what we do best," Forte said. "Our offensive line likes to come off the ball straight ahead and hit guys in the mouth and wear guys out like that, and I think we started to wear on them as the game went on, and then you saw some runs pop here and there.
"It's like a boxing match where you gotta wear your opponent down."