Jets running back Matt Forte says the Jets do not want a repeat of last season's locker room issues this year.
"Being in that locker room and going through that season, we know what the issues were," Forte told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday. "We identify those issues as a group and meet with the coaches and talk about, 'How do we change that? How do we change the culture in the locker room? How do we change the mistakes we made last year?'"
Forte went on to say that team leaders have conducted "a lot of meetings" with the coaching staff throughout the offseason, and have relayed the message to the rest of the team. The veteran running back touched on a topic that was brought up by WR Quincy Enunwa at the end of last season, about how the Jets simply did not play as a team.
"There's a difference between playing next to somebody and (playing) for them," said Forte. "I always say that to guys, like last year, when we were in the middle of the season and things weren't going well. We were at practice and I was like, 'Guys, everybody is out here as an individual and we're just playing next to the guy. Do you really know that guy?' If I'm playing next to you instead of for you, I really don't trust you."
Last offseason, the Jets had to deal with the contract dispute between the front office and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, which led to Fitzpatrick missing all of the team's offseason activities because he was unsigned. This set a bad tone for the team before the season even began. Then during the season, there was the Brandon Marshall - Sheldon Richardson feud, which created unneccessary tension in New York's locker room. Finally, there was the issue of Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson being late to team meetings, which led to the two defensive linemen getting benched for a quarter.
This year, the Jets have their most experienced quarterback and likely starter, Josh McCown, in the building and already bonding with teammates. Forte, who was teammates with McCown in Chicago, said the quarterback is doing a good job of helping to fill a leadership void at the quarterback position.
"He's been able to reach out to guys throughout the locker room already, and gain that camaraderie, that teammate that you need and that leader ... at quarterback that we need and are pretty much lacking," Forte said.