Roy Williams wasn't surprised that Matt Forte just keeps getting better
''He's the man,'' Williams said after Forte rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and added 38 yards on two receptions in the Bears' 24-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night at Wembley Stadium in London. ''I've said it from Week 1, he's the most valuable player on this football team.''
Actually, that used to be saying something. Not it's stating the obvious. Forte has been even better than that.
How much better?
''I think he's the best player in the NFL right now,'' teammate Brian Urlacher said. ''You look at everything he's done this year. It's just amazing. He's done everything.''
Even if Forte is not the best player in the NFL right now, Urlacher isn't too far off base. Forte leads the Bears with 672 rushing yards (on 124 carries, 5.4 yards per carry) and 419 receiving yards. He leads the NFL with 1,091 total yards. He's the first running back to break the 1,000-yard mark after seven games since 2004.
Forte credited his offensive line for his productive night against the Buccaneers, but center and offensive captain Roberto Garza wasn't buying that.
''Matt is doing a great job of making people miss and making us look good,'' Garza said. ''Today we had a rough day. We made a lot of mistakes and he picked it up. It wasn't a pretty game for the offensive line, but we fought through. You've got to win those games sometimes when you're battling out there and he's doing a great job of making plays and making this offense work.''
Forte did benefit from key blocks from guard Chris Spencer, tight end Matt Spaeth, fullback Tyler Clutts and wide receivers Williams and Dane Sanzenbacher on Sunday night. But he's doing more with what he's given to work with than he has in previous years.
''Every time he touches the ball, he starts from one side of the field and ends up in the end zone, you just never know what he's going to do,'' Garza said. ''His vision, his explosiveness, his speed, I could go on and on about the things he's doing well. We're just fortunate he's on our team.''
Forte wasn't buying the idea that he's been motivated this season by his contract disagreement with the Bears. Heading intothe final season of his rookie contract, for $600,000 in 2011, he asked the Bears to negotiate a new one. The Bears were too low. Forte was too high and a deal never got done.
''I'm motivated every year,'' he said. ''I'm not worried about being motivated for whatever reason. It's not like I've come out and played the game because I'm mad or anything like that. I come out there to succeed for my teammates and for myself.''
If Forte keeps up this pace, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo is going to have to pay up eventually. Though Forte insists it's all business and he holds no personal animosity toward the Bears for not giving him a new deal, it'll be interesting to see just how much loyalty towards the Bears Forte feels after the way this season has gone.