Before last season, Justin Forsett was considered by most NFL insiders as an afterthought. A perennial journeyman backup, not much was expected coming into last season. But now, after a phenomenal 2014 and with a new offensive coordinator whose playbook is seemingly designed for him, he finds himself in a very good place.
After a career resurgence last year in Baltimore, expect big things out of the Ravens running back again this upcoming season. Not only will he build upon his breakout performance of a year ago, which saw him rush for over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns while eclipsing the 100-yard rushing plateau five times, but he is now expected to become a major force in Baltimore’s passing game. Forsett has proven throughout his eight-year career that he is more than proficient as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He has eclipsed the 40 reception mark twice in his career, most recently last year where he also tallied 263 receiving yards in outgoing offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system.
Now, under new coordinator Marc Trestman, who has a history of involving his running backs in the passing game, we can expect Forsett’s receiving output to go up exponentially, perhaps even double. Statistics don’t lie. Historically, Trestman’s running backs have put up big numbers as duel threats both on the ground and through the air.
Seven times in his NFL coaching career, Trestman’s backs have caught 69 or more passes in a season. His scheme features check downs and many short yardage packages out of the backfield mixed in with stretch plays and options to hit those speedy receivers. You only have to look at his most recent body of work with Bears running back Matt Forte to get a glimpse of what we should expect from Forsett. In two seasons, Forte caught over 170 balls for over 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns.
Another plus for Forsett is that he plays for a quarterback who is very comfortable in looking to check down. Joe Flacco, while possessing a cannon for an arm and being well equipped at hitting targets downfield, has no problem in looking at his running backs on short routes out of the backfield. When Ray Rice was the lead back in Baltimore, he had over 500 yards receiving three out of his last five seasons.
With a pass-happy scheme coming in, one that will feature Forsett in a workhorse role similar to that of Matt Forte, expect big things production-wise out of the veteran running back this season. Even the coaching staff is gearing up for Forsett’s new role in a slightly retooled offense. According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reports, Head coach John Harbaugh, when probed about Forsett’s role in the passing game, he said “That will be a part of what we’re doing,” In further discussing what to expect he confirmed. “It’ll be a big part of it.”