Posts tagged with: Matt Forte

Are Bears overrated?

Training camp is an odd time. You can either leave it completely in love with a mediocre team or horrified by what you see from a highly regarded squad.

That’s because you spend much of training camp watching scrubs try to tackle other scrubs. Sometimes, these scrubs look great. Other times, they look like scrubs.

But this Chicago Bears training camp is something different. This was supposed to be new quarterback Jay Cutler’s camp. And so far, Cutler’s looked impressive. It’s nice to see what passes look like when they’re thrown by a quarterback who has a real arm.

But this training camp has also unearthed a whole slew of questions. First, is cornerback Nathan Vasher ever going to be good again? He hasn’t looked like it during training camp. Secondly, what about Tommie Harris? Will he revert to his old form again, or have injuries robbed him of his Pro-Bowl skill? Based on training camp, unfortunately, it looks like Harris won’t be returning to the Pro Bowl anytime soon.

Then there are the wide receivers. They all sort of stink. We knew that before training camp. We know that now.

And what about running back Matt Forte? He had an impressive rookie year. But he wore down at the end of the season. Is he just a one-year wonder? It’s impossible to tell from this training camp, at least.

Many consider the Bears to be favorites to win their division. That’s partly because Cutler is such an upgrade over former starting quarterback Kyle Orton. It’s partly because the Bears’ division just isn’t very strong.

Still, when you look really closely at the division, it becomes more difficult to make the argument that the Minnesota Vikings aren’t a more complete team.

Not everyone thinks Bears wide receivers stink

What’s the biggest problem with the Chicago Bears, right now?

Did you say “wide receiver?” If you did, you’re like most fans out there. Including me.

However, there are some out there who aren’t as worried about the receiver position. You can read this post over at the Bleacher Report blog. The writer argues that the Bears aren’t that bad at receiver. He points to Devin Hester and tight ends Desmond Clark and Gregg Olsen as the reason why.

I’ll agree that Clark and Olsen are two of the best receiving tight ends in the game right now. And that’s a true advantage for the Bears.

But Hester? He’d be fine as a number-three receiver, maybe even a number-two. But as a number-one receiver? He’s not even close yet. He led the Bears in receiving last year wtih decidedly below-average catches and yards. This might change with new quarterback Jay Cutler throwing him the ball. It may not.

And after Hester, who exactly is the number-two receiver? Is it fumble-fingered Rashied Davis, who can’t catch anything? Or is it Earl Bennett, who caught exactly zero passes in his rookie season?

There’s no denying that the Bears’ wide receivers are a lame lot. Yes, they have their tight ends and a good pass-catching running back in Matt Forte. But they still need a receiver that can put some fear in opponents. They don’t have that now.

Do the Bears need a backup running back?

The Bears had a lot of needs to fill this offseason. Credit Jerry Angelo will addressing many of them: He found a potential franchise quarterback. He added Orlando Pace to the offensive line. He added depth to the linebacking corps.

Of course, that leaves a few needs left unfilled, wide receiver being the most glaring. But there’s still time, and some hope, that Angelo will find a veteran free agent to play receiver.

But what about backup running back?

This may not seem like a huge need. But consider that starter Matt Forte is only entering his second season. Who knows if he’ll be as good this year as he was last season? Remember, too, that Forte wore down significantly as the season went on. He had some non-productive games during the year.

And just who is the backup to Forte? Do we trust the Bears’ Adrian Petersen or Garret Wolfe? I know I don’t.

New quarterback Jay Cutler will want a strong a running game. It’ll only increase his ability to be a game-changer. But if Forte goes down with injury, or isn’t as effective this season as he was in his rookie campaign, that running game isn’t going to be offering a lot of help.

Is it up to the tight ends to provide the passing offense this season?

Jay Cutler may wish he was back in Denver by the time this season ends. Of course, if the Bears do find a veteran wide receiver somewhere, than Cutler will probably have a fine time this year.

Will that happen? Who knows? For now, though, the Bears organization continues to insist that Devin Hester, who led the team with 51 catches for 665 yards, is a number-one receiver. I guess that makes dropsy-plagued Rashied Davis a number-two. Shudder.

The best receivers on the team are actually Gregg Olsen and Desmond Clark. Too bad they’re tight ends. The third best receiver is probably Matt Forte. Too bad he’s a running back.

That makes Hester the fourth best receiver on this squad.

Cutler can throw deep. That might help Hester. Or it might just frustrate Cutler when he finds out that no other Bears receiver can get open deep on a consistent basis.

My hope is that this post will soon become moot. There’s always hope that the Bears actually will pick up a real live NFL receiver.

Stranger things have happened. I mean, look at what the Bears did in April. They actually found a quarterback. Who would have predicted that?

What if Benson has another good year?

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.

Running game the key to this Bears season?

If you’ve never visited Da’ Bears Blog, make sure you do so. It’s a fun blog to read. Even better, it makes you think. (Not that we should ever think too much about football.)

Anyway, in this recent post, one of the blog’s writers says that though new quarterback Jay Cutler is receiving most of the attention, the real key to the upcoming Bears season is the running game.

The post cites some strong evidence for this belief. In the Bears’ 2006 Superbowl season, the team had only three games with under 100 yards rushing. This is a big reason it won 13 games that year.

In 2008, though, the team had a whopping 10 games where it didn’t rush for 100 yards. It finished with a lucky nine wins. (That stat is a little surprising considering the success of Matt Forte last year. He did, though, tail off significantly at the end of the season.) In 2007, when the Bears won only seven times, they had 12 games where they didn’t manage 100 yards rushing.

Lovie Smith likes to say that the Bears are a running team. But too often, they aren’t. And when they’re not, they lose.

Check out the post at Da’ Bears Blog, and be sure to read the long, long list of comments under it. You just might learn something.