Is the Jets running back battle being overshadowed by the quarterback dilemma?

Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in the 2nd quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Jets continue to work on their quarterback dilemma, it’s safe to say that not everything is crystal clear in the backfield either.


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The Jets have some viable options at running back again this season. Matt Forte, the once feared pass-catching threat is beginning to look healthy again, while a younger Bilal Powell has made recent strides in evolving his playstyle.

Now, while the Jets don’t seem to have a steady grip on how their passing attack is going to play out, fans can imagine that the team may heavily rely on the running game this year.

So who will be the feature back?

While it’s still up in the air, Powell seems to be the fan favorite to receive the most carries this season. He spent most of 2016 as a pass-catching substitute for Forte, but exploded down the stretch. In the final four weeks, Powell averaged 20.5 carries and 5.8 targets a game. He also managed to rack up 552 yards and three scores (via ESPN).

Powell has had a solid preseason as well. In Saturday’s tilt against the Giants, he managed to catch all four of his targets for 110 yards and a score, while also gaining 32 yards on seven carries. It’s Powell’s pass catching abilities that will make him quite valuable to this team this season.

On the other hand, there is Forte, who still maintains himself as a versatile back as he is similarly a great pass catcher when need be. However, battling age and injury, Forte may lose some of those hard fought touches he’s earned over the years.

The Jets may begin the season by splitting the carries between the two, but you can bet that after the first few weeks, the Jets (like their quarterback situation) will ride the hot hand.

While the job is Forte’s to lose, Powell will ride into the season with a chip on his shoulder. He very well may record the most rushing yards, as well as the most receiving yards for the Jets this season. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on the win-loss column at the end of the day.

– Kyle Hirshkind is a Staff Writer and Managing Editor for cover32/Jets and covers the New York Jets. Like and follow on

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