Matt Forte Should Be Headed to the Pro Bowl

Matt Forte Should Be Headed to the Pro Bowl

On New Year's Eve, I made the bold statement on "Chicago Tribune Live" that Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte should be headed to Hawai'i as one of the NFC's best running backs.

Nobody else on the panel agreed with me.

Here are the numbers to back up that statement.


First, the basics. Last week, the NFC named the three running backs that will represent the conference at the Pro Bowl: Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, St. Louis' Steven Jackson and the starter, Atlanta's Michael Turner.

Those are not the three best running backs in the NFC.

If you look at the most basic statistics by which running backs are measured - gross rushing yards - here are the top contenders for the three spots in the NFC:

  • Turner, ATL - 317 att, 1,304 yds
  • Peterson, MIN - 269 att, 1,267 yds
  • Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG - 261 att, 1,213 yds
  • Jackson, STL - 319 att, 1,196 yds
  • LeSean McCoy, PHI - 207 att, 1,080 yds
  • Matt Forte, CHI - 222 att, 978 yds

If all we care about is rushing yards, then Jackson bumped Bradshaw of the Giants out a position he rightfully deserves.

However, as anyone who understands the game of football will tell you, there is more that goes into playing the game than gross rushing yards.

Let me circle back and state that I disagree with two of the three players headed to the Pro Bowl for the NFC.

Peterson is the best running back in the NFL, and has put these numbers up in one game fewer than the others on this list; he missed the game against the Bears because of injury.

My opinion is that the second back that should be in Hawai'i for the NFC should be McCoy from the Eagles. He leads the backs on this list with 78 receptions already this year, and has the most total gross yards on the list (1,672). 

After Peterson and McCoy, though, my argument is that Forte is certainly deserving of a spot in the game. For the sake or that argument, here is my case that Forte is more deserving than Bradshaw, Jackson or Turner.

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Forte vs. Turner

Turner has been voted the starter, but my opinion is that he shouldn't be headed to the game. Of the six players on this list, Turner has the lowest average total yards per game (92.6), and the fewest receptions (12 in 15 games). He defines the term "one-dimensional back."

Forte, on the other hand, is averaging 97.7 total yards per game this year, and his average yards per touch (5.53) is 31 percent more than Turner (4.22). Forte also has more total yards from scrimmage (1,465) than Turner (1,389), despite Turner leading the conference in rushing yards.

Forte vs. Bradshaw

Bradshaw is one of only two backs in the NFC with more than 1,600 total yards this year, there are a number of key statistics in which Forte is better than half of the Giants' rushing attack. And both are major numbers.

First, Forte has more total touchdowns this year (nine) than Bradshaw (eight). If football is about putting the ball in the end zone, Forte has had a better season.

Secondly, Bradshaw is the worst among the backs on this list at hanging onto the ball. He was benched a couple weeks ago, and has disappeared onto the bench in more than a couple games this year because of his butter fingers. He has fumbled the ball seven times this year, losing six; that's three times as many turnovers as Forte (two). If the game of football is about hanging on to the rock, Forte is better there as well.

So while Bradshaw has more gross yards, the two most critical parts of the game - scoring and hanging onto the ball - favor Forte. Forte's average yards per touch is also more than a full half yard more than Bradshaw (4.96).

Forte vs. Jackson

There are a number of areas where Forte is more impressive than Jackson. First, like Turner, Forte averages more than a full yard per touch more than Jackson (4.27). Also, of the six backs on this list, Jackson has the fewest touchdowns (six), compared to Forte's nine.

Going into this season, there were few players in the league that were asked to carry their teams as much as Jackson, and he will try to lead his sub-.500 Rams into the playoffs on Sunday night. With a rookie starting quarterback, Jackson should have seen the end zone more than six times this year.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is simple: with 13 receiving yards and 22 rushing yards against Green Bay on Sunday, Forte will become not only the second running back in the NFC with 1,000 rushing and 500 receiving yards this year, but only the second in the history of the Bears franchise to accomplish the two feats in the same season.

The other: Walter Payton.

While nobody questions Peterson's placement in the game, it should have been McCoy and Forte going to the Pro Bowl with him. The numbers don't lie.

Double-Bottom Line

All Bears fans should hope that this argument is rendered worthless on January 23. The Pro Bowl will be played the week between the respective conference championship games and the Super Bowl, and players headed to the Super Bowl are not eligible to play in the annual all-star event.





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  • I agree on Turner--he's a very good RUNNING back, but not the all-around offensive weapon that Forte is. However, Stephen Jackson is far more of a workhorse on a team that needs him more than the Bears need Forte. Sure, Forte has more yards per touch--that's because a higher percentage of his touches come in the passing game, where the average production is higher. I would have gone with Jackson, Peterson, and McCoy as my starter. My Packers received much greater slights with Rodgers and Raji.

  • In reply to MJKasprzak:

    I agree that Aaron Rodgers not being invited is a joke. Nobody has done more with less than he has this year.

  • In reply to MJKasprzak:

    If stats meant everything lets make some changes to the Pro Bowl Rosters

    Joe Flacco had a better passing rating then Peyton Manning, lets leave Peyton at home and bring Flacco, he hasa better passer rating!!!

    Same with Josh Freeman and Brees....i say we leave Brees and home and take Freeman, obviously he was better since he had a better passer rating

  • In reply to Chris259:

    LOL... thanks for doing some homework and coming back with more nonsense... I appreciate that.

    Passer rating isn't a statistic... it's a "rating." So comparing a rating to hard numbers is apples and oranges, but good work on looking those players up. That's pretty neat that you did that.

    And, if Pro Bowl/All Star Games were based on numbers and not legend, then Flacco would be going to Hawai'i and not Peyton Manning. Manning has not been his usually-incredible self this year; lots of ugly interceptions.

    In the NFC, I would argue that Aaron Rodgers should be going over Brees. He's been better this year. Freeman isn't even close to a Pro Bowl player, but it's laughable that you'd say he is.

  • lost all credibility when u acted like 9 tds compared to 8tds was a huge difference

    Stephen Jackson is one of the besti n the league and has been huge for a team with a rookie QB and he is more talented then Forte without a doubt

    Forte over Turner???? Turner has only been a great RB on the team with the best record in the NFC and has made the Falcons one of the most balanced teams in the NFL and cannot argue that Forte is more talented then Turner

    wow you are a huge homer....9tds over 8 ....haha, what aj oke

  • In reply to Chris259:

    I appreciate you calling me a homer. That instantly means you don't have a legit argument. But for the sake of wasting time between periods of the Blackhawks game, I'll humor you with a response.

    A) You might be right that Jackson & Turner are "more talented" than Forte. That's a great argument. By that measure, Jeff George would be in the Hall of Fame. The Pro Bowl is not a bunch of "the most talented players" in the game. It's the best performers in the game in the given year. By telling me they're more talented, you're telling me "they didn't produce as well, but they should still be there." That's a garbage argument.

    B) Is nine more than eight? Last time I checked it is....

    C) You still haven't justified the reality that Forte's numbers merit the Pro Bowl, but I'm sure there's a talented person somewhere who agrees w/ you.

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