Chicago Sun-Times

Forte the league's most valuable running back? Orton matches a QB in conference title game

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You can find some real interesting analysis of player values over at where executive editor Christopher Reina has a system of ranking all players.

Reina e-mailed me last month when the Pro Bowl teams were announced to share his analysis with me. His system had Bears' rookie Matt Forte as the highest-ranked running back in the entire league, and he presented a case that Forte was snubbed. I disagreed with him at the time, and we exchanged our thoughts on the matter.

Now, his final rankings are out and they're worth taking a look at. Reina's system takes into account the percentage of a team's offense that each player is responsible for, and obviously Forte ranked highly. He led the league in this category, and here's a look at the top five backs:

Running back Team Pct. of Team's Offense Ranking in Reina's System

Matt Forte, Bears, 34.99, 1
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, 33.97, 4
Clinton Portis, Washington, 31.66, 7
Michael Turner, Atlanta, 29.58, 6
Chris Johnson, Tennessee, 29.17, 9

Reina's Field Impact Counter greatly aids backs who pile up receptions out of the backfield, and Forte's 63 catches were surpassed only by Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, who ranked fifth. Not surprisingly, Houston's Steve Slaton, also a skilled receiver, was highly ranked at No. 3. Peterson doesn't rank higher because he only made 21 receptions last season. Does that make Forte a better back?

Forte averaged less than four yards per carry for the season, slowed by a nagging toe injury down the stretch, and it's difficult to imagine any general manager choosing him over some of the other backs if all were available. Still, it presents an interesting way to look at the numbers.

Moving to quarterbacks, Kyle Orton came in 21st on the Reina list, which might be about where you would expect the Bears' starter to be if you were stacking up passers from around the league.

We've been wanting to do this for about a week now and there's no better time than now. Consider the following set of the stats:

Quarterback 1

79.6 passer rating

272 completions, 465 attempts, 58.5 percent, 2,972 yards, 6.39 yards per attempt, 18 TD's, 12 INT, 27 sacks

Quarterback 2

80.3 passer rating

257 completions, 428 attempts, 60.0 percent, 2,971 yards, 6.94 yards per attempt, 14 TD's, 12 INT, 32 sacks

Quarterback 1 is Kyle Orton and Quarterback 2 is Joe Flacco. In Reina's system, Flacco was one spot ahead of Orton.

There is the difference right there in Baltimore's defense and the Bears' defense and the Ravens' fourth-ranked rushing attack and the Bears' 24th-ranked rushing attack.

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Bears wideouts ouch! Orton ouch!! Too bad their is not a system for ranking coaches. OUCH! Safeties oooh! D line ouch!

Congratulations Forte you were the most valuable player for the BEars last year and hopefully many years to come.

This makes the case most clearly that we need a) a competent backup to Forte, and b) more investment in the offensive line.

If Forte goes down, so do the Bears.

I could't agree more with garsky - complimentary backup is huge. Forte was all we had this year. I hope the front office makes some smart moves this free agency, so we don't have to rely on the draft alone. Isn't Derrick Ward a URFA this year? He is a tough dude.

"...and it's difficult to imagine any general manager choosing him over some of the other backs if all were available."

Brad, I think that would depend on the team. A guy like Clinton Portis or Matt Forte can do it all: run, block, catch etc. and they're bright enough to handle any assignment that's thrown their way. So a team with limited weapons on offense (Bears) would benefit the most from having those multi-purpose type backs.

Whereas a team with weapons such as go-to receivers or franchise QBs would probably benefit the most from the straight-away rushers like Peterson or Turner who rush the best, but have problems in other areas like pass blocking and receiving.

Brad i think forte has the potiential to be a marshall faulk type back. and if he keeps up and can survive what the bears put him through he might be better!!!go Bears!!

Brad, to be fare to Forte, I can name four things that give Peterson a big advantage in rushing: Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie, and Ryan Cook.

People should also be giving Flacco some credit he was not the starter at the begining of the year. Much like Orton in 2005 he was the number 3 guy entering the season and a true rookie. The Bears defense that year was ranked 2nd and they had an excellent running game much like this years Ravens team. So in the same situation, not so close. Just being fare to the Rookie.

Orton's numbers that year.
Comp 190, Att 368, Cmp% 51.6, Yds 1869, Y/A 5.1, TD 9, INT 13, SK 30.

Brad how come Fumbles lost are not considered, they are turnovers after all.

Lol my boyfriend was saying the exact same thing how Forte has to be the most valuable running back if not player because of all the things he does for the Bears. I just hope that Jerry the Idiot stop messing around and actually drafts a quarterback. Orton is ok but I don't think he's the long term answer because we can always do better. Just no more ignoring the offense Jerry and picking up only defense players and then getting the offense from free agency when there just stop gaps.

I'm not so sure this suggests we need a backup as much as it points to the not so startingly fact that if you stop Forte, you stop the Bears.

I think what the Bears need more than any single player is an overall theme to their offense and/or their team.

Do we really get off the bus running?

Do we really have a defense that can dominate opponents (a la Steelers and Ravens)?

Until the team decides what identity it wants, there is very little gained by having an adequate backup to Forte (particularly if we don't improve our O-line).

Seedy...what's up man where you been....good drop on the Forte issue, when you think about it, it scares the heck out of you, we do need a solid person to back him up in case of injury, I had hoped we could use Kevin Jones similiar to the Vikes use of Chester Taylor, but it does not look like he's in the picture next season for the BEARS at this point, Wolfe may be ready to step up it took Sproles a few years to get bulked up enough to take some pounding and his play on special teams this season was solid, but I agree with you Seedy this make a person say HHMM........

I love Matt Forte I think he's great... I actually think he is a little underrated...but man, they need help with the defense...I mean, common, seriously, they were the 'Monsters of the Midway' and now they are like the 'Mouses of the Midway'................

We need an actual offense. Yes, the defense gave up big plays, and there were numerous problems (lack of a pass rush, Urlacher not being able to shed a block, etc,) that we can easily point out. But our offense didn't help matters at all. Our time of possession per game was 28:36, which was good for 27th in the league. We were one of the most pathetic teams on offense, both statistically, and in person. What is this due to? Horrible blocking- How can Orton make the plays when he hardly has any time to throw? He did great in the first half, in spite of the inconsistent blocking.

Talent (or rather lack thereof)- Who did Orton have to throw to? Devin Hester- He improved from last year, but still made bone headed mistakes. For example, he was out of place on many occasions. There were a few deep passes that he could have caught easily, had he been in his assigned spot. Marty Booker- People were nostalgic for the good old days, when Booker was a legitimate threat. Those days are long gone. Rashied Butterfingers Davis- Good God, what the **** is wrong with that guy? It's as if his hands were made of stone. Earl Bennett- Why the **** did Smith never play this kid? We heard SO much about his talent, and how he was the SEC leader in receptions. So what did he do to deserve the lack of playing time this year? He couldn't have POSSIBLY been worse than what we were constantly putting on the field. We can't know what we have in this kid if he Lovie has him riding the pine.

Injury- Let's face it: Orton clearly wasn't himself when he returned from that nasty injury. His mechanics were off, he was staring down receivers, he wasn't as mobile as he was in the first half, etc. I think he came back too soon. That injury usually takes a month or longer to heal. He missed all of one game. That's it. I was glad to see him back, but it was clear that the man wasn't himself.

Coaching- Can anyone name a (good) team that is legitimately scared of a Ron Turner run offense? Because I sure as Hell can't think of any. His playcalling is dull, unimaginative, and quite predictable. It's pretty bad when even the broadcasters know what you're going to do before you do it. And if they knew what was going to happen, you know damn well the other teams know it, too.

So, while the defense could really benefit from a couple of new pieces, we DESPERATELY need an offense. It's really as simple as that.

Reinforce your strengths. Forte is very strong and stands out against good NFL competition.

His unique stutter-step/shoulder-shake is lethal 1-on-1, giving him the rare capacity to beat "the unblocked defender" in an 8-man front. His abilities give the running game dominant potential.

Selecting 2 explosive offensive lineman could upgrade the execution of blocking schemes. Greater execution will lead to greater control over the line of scrimmage. Control is Domination...and "Domination" is closer to 5 ypc than the 3.9 ypc Forte grinded out in 2008.

The bears need to draft a big wide reciever. Someone on the other side of Hester who can catch in traffic and elevate above the secondary. Next we need to sure up the QB spot. Orton aint it. He's Joe Montanna up to 15 yards but is Ray Charles beyond that. I heard Pittsburghs backup wants in. We should grab him. Dnt waste this years draft pick on a QB just yet when we need a reciever and linemen. Finally, drop the Tampa 2. We were picked apart. So were every team that used it. It should only be used in the redzone. It doesnt give up the big play but it still becomes a slow, grueling process down the field through the gaps. Forte is the man. Without the threat of a deep pass, he and Olson are limited

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 15, 2009 10:07 AM.

Bears' CB Tillman on the mend from shoulder surgery was the previous entry in this blog.

Many happy returns: Manning garners All-NFL honors is the next entry in this blog.

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