I’m not sold yet on Matt Forte.
Yes, the Bears running back had a fine rookie season. He was a workhorse, and showed skills as both a runner and receiver.
But … there were some bad signs. There were many games in which Forte had little to no impact. There were a few where he rushed for an average of less than 3 yards a carry. And, worst of all, he faded as the season went along. The Bears, who were miraculously still in playoff contention during the last week of the season, needed Forte to carry them at the end of the year.
He didn’t. In the Bears 31-24 season-ending loss to the Texans, Forte managed just 50 yards rushing.
That brings me to Cedric Benson. Yes, he was a miserable bastard while with the Bears. Yes, he had his problems with the law, and with his fellow teammates. And when he was made the starter for the 2007 season, he flopped miserably.
But last year with the Cincinnati Bengals, Benson gained 747 yards rushing and 185 yards receiving, even though he didn’t become the Bengals’ starting running back until week 7.
It will be interesting to watch what happens to Benson this year. Will he be the 1,000-yard-plus workhorse he was supposed to be coming out of the University of Texas? And if he is, what does that say about the Bears’ coaching staff?
If Benson had been a stronger player for the Bears, they undoutbedly would not have drafted Forte. Like I said, I like Forte. But if Benson had been the answer at running back, the Bears could have drafted to fill another of their glaring needs, and they’d have a stronger team today.
Let’s just hope that the Bears didn’t mishandle Benson.