Chicago Sun-Times

Bears confident Forte will improve with reduced workload

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The Bears continue to say the plan is to reduce the workload for running back Matt Forte this season after he was fourth in the league with 316 carries last season, averaging 19.8 per game. It was not just the carries--Forte was on the field a lot. He averaged being on the sideline less than 10 plays per game, a pretty remarkable number for a rookie. More on the playing time statistics in a little bit.

Veteran Kevin Jones said more playing time was not the primary factor in his decision to turn down an offer from the Buffalo Bills and return, but it did come up in the conversation.

"We definitely want him to be more involved and we told him that,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "He's a good football player. Last year he came in and he was coming off that knee and he came into camp and he wasn't in the best of shape. His knee wasn't 100 percent. Now, he's a year removed from knee surgery, he's had a year in our system. He's looking great out here. He looks totally different. He's quicker. He looks more confident in himself and in our offense. He looks really good."

Jones didn't come on board until July last year and that meant Forte was ahead of him in terms of learning the playbook. He will not be behind this time, and one of the things he's trying to prove to Turner is that he can catch the ball. That's one thing Forte did well. He led all running backs in the league with 63 receptions, setting a Bears' record for catches by a rookie at the same time.

"Kevin doesn't want to be a guy that is just back there to run it,'' Turner said. ``He already told me, `I got 61 one year.' I said, `I know, Kevin.' He said he was just reminding me. We wanted to get him in more than we did and it was just a matter of comfort level. We had more confidence in Matt. He's got an offseason now. We need to get Matt off the field and Matt will be a better player because of it.''

That's the interesting thing. Turner believes Forte can be more effective if he's more rested. Here is how the playing time broke down in 2009:


Matt Forte 850 of 1,012 offensive plays, 83.99 percent
Adrian Peterson 71 of 1,012, 7.02 percent
Kevin Jones 64 of 1,012, 6.32 percent
Garrett Wolfe 27 of 1,012, 2.67 percent

The Bears need to find a way to get Wolfe more involved also. What's a good percentage for Forte? They will figure that out as they go but we doubt it would dip below 75 percent and certainly not below 70. Stay tuned.

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11 Comments

Adrian Peterson 71 of 1,012, 7.02 percent --- WAY TO MUCH PT for a player of his ilk. He has never been good enough to start, yet has a few, he is a good ST player, and thats where he should stop.

If Wolfe/Jones, dont eliminate those touches from Peterson, we will be out of the playoffs again this season.

Jones is not a starter anywhere in the NFL thats why he came back, the chance to be the Change of Pace to Forte, had to be a huge draw.

I live out in Denver, and all I hear is WHINER around Cutler, but I think if he puts up 3,000 yrds, 20-25 TDs with less than 15 INTs, we are playoff bound, well if that D plays up to its ability as well, and Cutler does not have a repeat of last year's donkey D.

I really hope Kevin Jones continues on his maturity path as a player. At Va Tech, he was usually the strongest and fastest guy on the field, and bounced everything outside to leverage his speed to turn the corner. When he got to the NFL, he did the same thing, which slowed his development as a west coast running back. He had made some excellent progress in being patient, and accepting the 3 yard gain, and stop trying to turn a bad play into a huge gain every time. Then he got injured, so the question is whether he can get back his physical skills, and continue to refine the mental aspect of his game.

His hands are solid, his pass blocking is average if not good, and his ability to get to the second and third levels once he hits the hole was impressive prior to the injury. Hopefully he is back to the player he was, in which case, I would be very happy with our 1-2 punch. We may not be as flashy as Peterson-Taylor, but not too far behind in my opinion.

If it works out, then I say we drop both Wolfe and Peterson, and bring in a physical, bruising back to save wear and tear on both of them in the 4th quarter. That is the one facet of our running game that is missing. Forte is a shifty big back with good speed, and Jones is a straight ahead with a little wiggle back with potential home run speed. Wolfe is a scat back at best, and Peterson is a versatile plodder who is tough, but not a consistent pile mover. If Jones and Forte are capable of being 3 down backs, no need for a 3rd down guy behind them. Not a whole lot out there in FA, but there are some options that can also play on special teams. We might also look at running fullbacks to be the hammer, so we would technically carry 2 FB on the roster. McKie and Davis are not hammer-type runners, so neither of them fit the bill as a punisher in the backfield. Maybe a Brannan Southerland from Georgia if he hasn't signed yet, or watch for some cuts as we get closer to training camp.

Not only a lack of carries, but Jay Cutler is also gonna help Matt Forte out big time. With Cutler, Forte shouldn't be facing as many 8 man boxes as last season. Matt Forte should be a lot more effective with less carries also. I wouldn't be surprised if Forte pounds out 1300 this season, hopefully!

As far as Kevin Jones, I had a feeling he was never 100% last season. Usually with a lot of these knee injuries, most players aren't at a 100% until the second season after the injury. Jones should also be a lot more effective two years removed from the injury. Jones and Forte should give the Bears a nice one two punch.

With the addition of Jay Cutler, along with Matt Forte and a healthy Kevin Jones, Chicago should have one of the more talented backfields in the league. Jerry Angelo has done a hell of a job putting this unit together the last two seasons through the draft [Forte], free agency [Jones], and trade [Cutler]. Its looking like this fall a lot of people might be saying GO BEARS!!

Kevin Jones is better than Thomas Jones!!!! We'll see this year!!

Rebuilt line will certainly not hurt in getting off the bus running.

I hope to see the O line start to knock some snot out of the defenses they face and with Cutler a threat of passing for big gains the box will not be consistently 8 in the box as was previously said.

But if you truly look at it the BEARS have been faced with 8 in the box for a consistent basis for many years due to little threat from the QB's and wide receivers.

This year may be special and the Defense and Offense will both need to be dominant. Special Teams and Toub always seem great but the other factor that the BEars always seem to suck is coming out of half time with adjustments that actually work.

The two playoff games that Carolina dominated with Steve Smith come to mind as does the play calling with leads after halftime such as against the Giants the year they won the SuperBowl. they let that game slip away.

I believe that the BEARS are somehow going to get it done this year. Somehow, Someway.

Forte will improve..how about Cutler?..The dude will actually have a running game...and I don't really give a Crap-ton whose at reciever. The Bears might not be an elite team....but they have to mentioned after 4..for once,the offense might take pressure of the defense.

@ texasjim. Denver's running game didn't help them win games, but they were 12th in the NFL, which is respectable. Bears were 24th.

@ Bigdaddy remember that those 71 plays Adrian Peterson hit the field on offense, he only had 26 touches (20 carries for 100 yards and 6 catches of 45). Forte was a rookie last year, and while he plays like a complete player, I think Adrian Peterson makes a better pass blocker.

If it's a passing down and the Bears were facing a team with a good rush, and you're planning on keeping the running back at home regardless, it was worth it to get Forte some rest and put in AP.

Not to say that I don't disagree that on the ball he isn't terribly effective, however high his YPC was last year. But saying the Bears won't make the playoffs based on that number isn't very accurate.

I'm worried that for once the offense seems like our strength. That's not Da Bears. I don't care if Cutler passes for 5000 yds and 40 td's and blah blah blah... if were not ripping the ball away from opposing ballcarriers, if big lineman like tommie harris aren't running back touchdowns, if our safeties aren't knocking the snot outta wideouts, if we let guys like AP in minnesota run all over us, we are NOT gonna win the division (which is up more up for the taking than EVER) we are NOT going to the playoffs and we are DEFINITELY NOT gonna even make it to the big dance.

I'm worried that the Bears still haven't realized that Devin Hester needs to focus on returning kicks and that they need to put an end to this circus act, transforming him into a wideout, once and for all.

I'm worried that we don't have a backup quarterback.

I'm worried that we still don't have a Brendan Ayanbadejo-Larry Whigham type a guy.

But most of all I'm worried that the window of this core is closing fast and Lovie just doesn't have what it takes, he's putting his whole rep on the line, can't admit he was wrong about Hester switching to offense, can't admit he was wrong about Babich... This season is it for Lovie, it's one and done, the big enchilada or bust. And if Lovie can't light a fire under this defense that is littered with talent then all us Bears fans are gonna be wondering what the eff happened come next january.... Smith'll get sacked, and it's back to being the Cincinnati Bengals for us.

Bear down...

Frankly, I think the Bears have all the pieces they need to be successful, with the possible exception of another wide receiver. I think the weak link in this mix is the offensive coordinator Turner. I hope he shows as much improvement as we are expecting from the players.

LosingMBWH4Eva AP may have run wild but they would have lost both games if the O-Line was a good run blocking team that was able to eke out a stinking yard and that was with a scatter shot Orton Brendan and Larry over half the teams in the NFL wish they had on of those we didn't last year and I can point to at least two games they could have won if they get a stinking first down and Steve Smith is the basic type the Bears are hoping for Hester yes he had a bad year in the return game but teams also executed well and Devin tried to make too hard to make things happen. Lovie has put him job on the line by taking on the defense and he is betting that between him and Marinelli they can revive them if not you could be right bye-bye Lovie. And it will be his own hard-headed fault you need bigger stronger DT's to stop the run now and his refusal to invest in a run stuffer will be his undoing.

The Bears could have drafted or acquired the next Payton Manning at QB, or the next Rice at WR, but none of it would matter as long as Ron Turner is calling the plays. Turner has been around football most of his life and knows the game well. But with longevity comes a history and Turner's past is one of simplicity, sameness, and an inability to make any meaningful second half adjustments: Ron Turner cost the Bears wins.

Yes, teams play 8-man fronts with the Bears, but not just because the situation calls for it. But also, they know the Turner play that's coming. Remember in the Bears/Colts superbowl, when Rex was intercepted trying to pass to Muhammad and the Colt ran it back for a touchdown? Here's what that Colt had to say, "I played for Turner at Illinois and I recognized the formation and when Rex double pumped I just waited for the ball." How about the second half of that same game when the Bears running game began to work, and Turner went to the pass with a very suspect and nervous QB?

The Bears have the player parts to be great this year, but will not be successful and it has absolutely nothing to do with the lack of a proven WR - it's Turner! Its been said that a coach makes the difference plus or minus of about 3 games. Whatever your predictions for the Bears this season, minus three games due to the Turner Effect.......

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 7, 2009 1:32 PM.

Bears mull addition of Gaines, need improvement in short yardage was the previous entry in this blog.

How do the Bears stack up so far this offseason? is the next entry in this blog.

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