It wasn’t too long ago that Matt Forte was considered one of the premier running backs in the NFL. It looks like there is a good chance he could be rejoining the ranks of the elite in 2013.
When the Bears hired noted quarterback guru Marc Trestman this offseason, everyone pointed to Jay Cutler and the effect Trestman would have on him and the Bears’ passing game. Chicago’s passing game was ranked 29th in the NFL in 2012 and was arguably the main reason the Bears missed the playoffs.
That said, if you are looking for the Bears to become a franchise that just throws the ball downfield every chance they get now that Trestman is running the show, don’t hold your breath. The last time Trestman coached the American version of the game was in 2006 as offensive coordinator at North Carolina State. That season, he had two backs combine for over 1300 yards of rushing in his offense. The passing game managed just under 2200 yards.
In 2011, Trestman’s offensive scheme helped Montreal Alouette running back Brandon Whitaker lead the Canadian Football League in rushing. That same year, Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo still managed to lead the CFL in passing yards.
What this tells me is that Trestman will likely get the Chicago running backs, mainly Forte, more involved in the offense and establish a running game in order to open up his lethal passing attack. Once that passing attack puts up the points and numbers I expect it to — combined with the low amount of point the Bears defense will yield to opposing teams — Forte and the running game will be called upon once again to close out games.
It will be a bit of a change for Forte, who had the bulk of his success playing the “Marshall Faulk” role in Mike Martz’s offense. Now he’ll be asked to be more of a between-the-tackles runner, which he has shown he can be in the past. He’ll still be asked to catch balls out of the backfield, just not as much as he was asked to in Martz’s system.
Upgrades on Chicago’s offensive line should have a positive impact on Forte’s numbers as well. The team brought in veterans Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson during the offseason. They then spent their first round pick in the past April’s NFL Draft on Kyle Long (Howie’s son, Chris’ Brother). Long is an athletic guard used to playing in Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense at Oregon. He should fit into Trestman’s scheme perfectly.
Whether you’re a Bears fan, Forte fan or a speculative fantasy owner, I think the chances of the 27 year old Matt Forte having a career revival in 2013 are good, thanks to the change in offensive schemes and personnel that Marc Trestman brought to the Windy City. He’ll have every opportunity to do so, but it will be up to him to produce.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MAY 25, 2013