One year ago Chicago Bears runningback Matt Forte signed a four year contract extension to remain with the team, one year into that deal and they have failed to get their monies worth. That has to end this year, and it has to end with giving Forte the ball over and over again whether it's in the passing game or more importantly the running game. The best thing the Bears could do for Jay Cutler is to let him operate out of play-action, the best way to establish that is to run Matt Forte.
Forte needs to get into a rhythm and to do so he needs 20 carries a game at a minimum. The new offensive system is an inside/outside zone system that is ideally suited to take advantage of Forte's skills. Now they just have to allow him to use his skills to take the burden off of Cutler. The Bears were one of the least effective teams in the NFL last year on first down, and were 31st in the NFL in play-action pass attempts. An excusable statistic when you have a franchise back like Forte at your disposal who now enters the prime of his career.
In 2012 it was almost as if Mike Tice the offensive line coach and running game coordinator was afraid to let Forte get into a groove. The Bears would run the ball successfully, then inexplicably stop running the football. They would then resort to ill-timed deep passes on first down which would lead to sacks. In fact the Bears were one of the worst pass blocking teams in the NFL on first down, a maddening stat when you have the stable of backs the Bears have.
The question is will Marc Trestman utilize Forte enough as a runner or make him a primary asset in the passing game. Forte can be one of the best runners in the NFL if he's allowed to be. The question is will Trestman allow Forte to be the work horse running back or will he instead put the burden completely on Cutler. The Bears can have one of the most balanced offenses in the NFL if they do things the right way.
Trestman's past as an offensive coordinator calling running plays is sketchy at best. The two times he was completely in control of the offense in Arizona and Oakland both teams started out in the middle of the pack in attempts. Then gradually Trestman would back off and both teams would go away from the run game. That was in particular known as a different era of football where teams would run more than they have in this a more wide-open era of football. Does this that Trestman will be less likely to run the ball now with Forte?
Any way you slice the best thing the Bears can do for their offense is to use the run to set up the pass. It's the best way to slow down a pass rush, the best way to free up the receivers by forcing a defense to bring an eighth man into the box and can set up play-action. Play-action can allow Cutler to get out of the pocket and on the move, a skill that he is more comfortable in.
Also in the running game there is the question of short yardage and whether or not Forte can improve upon being one of the worst short yardage backs in the NFL. If not the Bears still have Michael Bush who is good in short yardage but is also not completely one-dimensional to in turn limit an offense's options. The Bears do need to get off the bus running and need to be aggressive in their approach.
The goal should be alleviating pressure on Cutler and giving him the best option to succeed. To do this there is no better weapon than Matt Forte pounding the rock. Efficiency will be the key and the Bears can be one of the most efficent teams in the NFL by establishing the run first and getting the best out of a running back who is in his prime.