Chicago Sun-Times

Matt Forte isn't Marshall Faulk -- but he's getting closer

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Asking Mike Martz how Matt Forte compares to Marshall Faulk seemed kind of silly in August. And while Forte still is not Marshall Faulk -- not even close, really -- through seven games he's playing at a Faulk-like pace. That's not a fluke sample, either.

After seven games, Forte leads the NFL in total yards among non-quarterbacks with 1,091 -- 672 rushing yards on 124 carries (5.4 yards per carry) with two touchdowns; and 419 yards on 38 receptions (11.0 per catch), with one touchdown. He leads the NFL in rushes of 20 yards or more with nine.

So at this moment, comparisons to Faulk aren't unreasonable. He's having that kind of season.

''Well, they're different guys, but they certainly do the same kinds of things,'' Martz said. ''The intelligence there -- the football IQ is off the charts with Matt. You can tell him in the classroom and he has it. He is not one of those guys who you have to go up to and walk through it or anything like that.

And furthermore ....

''There are just so many things you can do with him,'' Martz said. ''His speed is really unusual. Getting him in the perimeter is a priority. He's become a terrific inside runner. There really isn't anything he can't do very well or understand, which makes him pretty darn good.''

Forte is third in the NFL in rushing yards behind the Vikings' Adrian Peterson (712 yards, 4.9 per carry, eight touchdowns) and the Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew (677, 4.6, 2 TDs). The Bills' Fred Jackson (601 yards, 5.7 per carry in six games) also is ahead of Forte in yards per game (100.2).

Is there a better all-around running back in the league?

''Not even close,'' Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. ''What he can do [on] first, second and third down in the passing game and the running game, inside and outside - if we lose him, we've got a lot of issues.''

Here's how crazy of a season it's been for Forte. Four weeks after he had nine carries for two yards against the Packers, not only is he being compared to Marshall Faulk, but wear-and-tear is a legitimate issue. Forte has had 105 touches the past four weeks -- 89 carries and 16 pass receptions.

He now has 977 carries in his NFL career, including the playoffs. In a year where the Titans' Chris Johnson seems to have lost it as he crossed the 1,000-carry barrier this season -- and after he signed a monster contract -- the issue, believe it or not might quickly go from not using Forte enough to using him too much.

And while that might be the media and fans never being happy and always needing something to fret about, it's not unfounded. Martz said Wednesday that he does not even think about overusing Forte in the course of a game. But running backs coach Tim Spencer does. ''That's why we alternate [Marion Barber] in there,'' Martz said. ''And it's a really nice 1-2 punch.''

Despite the numbers, the Bears aren't overusing Forte. At 6-2, he's a big guy for a running back. He's not an inside runner who takes a pounding. And most of all, he has vision and a knack for angling his body to avoid big hits. Anything can happen on one play. But if anything, Matt Forte needs more work, not less.

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3 Comments

You are correct...Matt Forte is no Marshall Faulk,....he is better! Before you all think I'm nuts, remember who had the better o-line, who had the better QB, and who had the way better receivers. What he is doing is truly amazing considering his offensive teammates!

You are correct...Matt Forte is no Marshall Faulk,....he is better! Before you all think I'm nuts, remember who had the better o-line, who had the better QB, and who had the way better receivers. What he is doing is truly amazing considering his offensive teammates!

No your actually nuts. He's not better, he would have to do this every year for five to six years to be better than Faulk, and Faulk was doing it before he went to the Rams. All you need to look at is the TD's to know Faulk was better, Faulk scored on his big plays, Faulk was not just a check down reciever. The only reason you would say something like that is if you never saw Faulk run.

Forte is having a big year, that don't make him Faulk. Faulk scored 26 TD's in 2000 and did it in just 14 games, Forte has scored 28 in 55 games. Forte has 3 TD this year and is on pace for 7.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to score 28 TD's in a season as a RB? The GST never worked without Faulk, it still doesn't. Have you even considered the level of competition? How good are the defenses Forte has faced? You know back when Faulk was running most teams were still gearing up to stop the run.

By the way did you really need to write it twice with two different names?

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on October 26, 2011 8:02 PM.

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