Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte is primed for what I believe will be his best NFL season in 2013. In the Bears’ win last Thursday over the San Diego Chargers, Forte looked fresh and had a nice day with eight carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. He also rattled off a 58-yard run which set up a Brandon Marshall touchdown.
Ever since his rookie year, Forte has provided consistent production for an offense that has lacked any kind of real consistency in the passing game. He has been the one guy the Bears could turn to in a pinch to provide a spark for the offense. He isn't a great short yardage back, but he has one of the more explosive second gears and has some of the best open field vision in the NFL.
Matt Forte is dangerous for opposing defenses when he breaks through to the second level and has open space to work with, and he has always ran behind athletic lines, with offensive lineman who can move out in space. The run blocking schemes the last few seasons have been solid, but the coaching staff seemed to shy away from it when they needed it most.
Carimi and Webb, as the tackles, were more suited to play the run rather than pass protect. Carimi graded out positive in run blocking in 2012, and now Carimi is gone with Webb looking at a season riding the bench. Both guys have been replaced by talent seemingly more suited toward helping move this offense forward.
Forte has had a below average line to run behind his entire career, and in his five professional seasons he has only gone over the 1,000 yard mark three times (granted mostly due to injuries). He has been reliable in terms of ball security and limiting turnovers, but his best season as a pro is still his rookie season, where he was a work horse and carried the ball 58 more times the his second best year (316 attempts).
The new coaching staff will most likely have Forte in the 260-280 carries range in 2013, as they don't want to overuse him, but expect more touches for him this season. Forte, behind the current line, can achieve those same numbers as he did in his rookie season with a smaller workload.
The Bears drafted and signed lineman who should come in and immediately give Cutler some stability in the pocket, but the stability will translate over even better to the running game. Jermon Bushrod has shown his ability to seal his man to the outside and consistently do it from play-to-play. We have seen Kyle Long make every block that is asked of him, and he has put on display his brute strength and athletic ability.
Even the right tackle situation with rookie Jordan Mills seems to be upgraded over last year, though that situation has still yet to be figured out, and Jonathon Scott should be back on the field within the week. Forte is running behind a much improved line this season, and it should actually benefit him more than Cutler.
Now under Trestman, and with the Bears transitioning into this west coast offense where Forte's style of play has thrived before, Forte should have no problem making the transition. He has the ability to work out of the backfield and as a receiver and needs touches in the passing game and running game to be at his most effective, and this style of play should suit him perfectly.
Trestman will find interesting ways to use Forte during the regular season and that should up his production this year. Forte also looks stronger coming into camp and in these first two preseason games — bouncing off tackles and lunging forward rather than being stopped at the point of contact.
I've looked at Forte the same way the last couple of seasons; as a dark horse candidate to take this team to the next level. Injuries, lack of consistency on the line, and instability on the sidelines have held him back. He has the talent of a top back in this league, and under this new offensive system and coaching staff could potentially have his best season yet.
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