First off, let me say I fully expect Matt Forte to come to his senses and sign something before training camp starts. I do not see any scenario playing out that has Forte staying home. He'll be a Chicago Bear in 2012, and while I don't think they need him as much as he needs the Bears, he's still a damn good tailback. Having him around will make the offense that much better.
If you truly believe that a backfield of Forte, Michael Bush, and Kahlil Bell is equal to one of Bush, Bell, and (insert 3rd RB here), then you're blinded by the anti-Forte sentiment. While I don't see Matt Forte on that elite ($20Mil guarantee) level, I still think he's a talented football player, and the more talent on a team the better.
The importance of the tailback has been lessened by the various rule changes that aide the passing game, but a good running game can still take a team a long way. Especially one that plans to emphasize play action. As long as Lovie Smith is running the show the Bears will still get off that bus running, and I'm OK with that, because at least now they have a passing game that can potentially
win take over games.
Forte has very good hands and a solid feel for the passing game. He's an adequate pass blocker, and he's shown good timing popping out for screens. I don't see him catching 50-60 balls like in the past, but his receiving yards could still hover around the 400 yard mark. More attention being spent on the Bears wideouts, means more room for Forte to run if he catches the ball as the check down.
A lot has been made about his inability to score rushing TDs (by myself included), but it's an overrated stat. Sure he's been stuffed a few times trying to punch it in during his 4 years as a Bear, but his upright running style isn't conducive to being a move the pile runner. It's not like the Bears are the first team to turn to a short yardage specialist. How many fantasy owners have seen their teams lose thanks to these TD poachers.
His yards per carry has gone up each of the last three seasons, and it's not out of the question to see it creep over 5.0 in 2012. Defenses will have more things to focus on besides Chicago's running game. A healthy Matt Forte will once again be among the league leaders in all purpose yards. And as much as I liked the Michael Bush signing, I'd like him even more as the lesser end of a 60/40 split with Matt Forte.
The List so far;
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #10 Shea McClellin
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #9 Stephen Paea
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