“I absolutely love that we signed him! His leadership will be huge for us. I have tremendous respect for him as a player and competitor,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told NFL Network’s Michael Silver. “He’s one of the best I’ve had to game plan against!”
Gore, nine days from his 37th birthday, will enter his 16th season in the NFL with his fifth different organization after spending the last two years in the AFC East (Dolphins in 2018, Bills in 2019). In New York, Gore will reunite with Gase, who coached the RB in Miami in 2018 as he led the team in rushing attempts (156) and yards (722).
Last season, Gore split time with Bills back Devin Singletary, playing all 17 games, including the postseason, and totaling 187 touches, 721 total yards and two TDs. At 36, Gore led all Bills players with 166 rushing attempts in the regular season, though Singletary outran him 775 to 599.
The Inconvenient Truth should expect to play a similar role with Gang Green, spelling the dual-threat Bell, New York’s high-priced acquisition from 2019 who is coming off a career-worst season, and grinding out tough yards behind an unproven Jets offensive line. Gore will likely also play mentor to New York’s fourth-round selection, La’Mical Perine, another hard-nosed tailback from a Florida college.
In Bell’s first season in New York, the Jets finished dead last in total offense, 31st in scoring offense and 31st in rushing. Without a viable backup or a stable O-line and hampered by injuries and mysterious illnesses, the Jets never got off the ground. Gore’s addition, as well as the handful of new offensive linemen acquired via free agency and the draft, should help guard against another disastrous start and revive Sam Darnold‘s young career.
Signing in New York also affords Gore another opportunity not just to play for another AFC East team, but to climb higher in the record books. The five-time Pro Bowler ended the 2019 season third on the all-time rushing list (15,347 yards), third in rushing attempts (3,548), third in touches (4,016) and fourth in yards from scrimmage (19,243).
With 1,380 rushing yards, Gore will pass Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton for second all-time; he passed Barry Sanders for third in late November last season. While it’s unlikely Gore will pass Payton in 2020 — Gore will assuredly be New York’s RB2 barring an injury to Bell, and he hasn’t tallied that many yards in a season since 2006 — there’s a greater likelihood now that the veteran could surpass Sweetness’ sum in two seasons time.
Gore still has a lot to play for — a Super Bowl title and an assured gold jacket would be nice, as well — and in New York, he’s found a club as desperate for his services as he is to never, ever leave the game.