Bears-Vikings RB Viewer's Guide: Forte or Bush in close?

Bears-Vikings RB Viewer's Guide: Forte or Bush in close?
November 30, 2013, 10:00 am
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Matt Forte continues to have the kind of season that featured backs in Marc Trestman offense typically have. He is tied for second in receptions (56) by a running back behind only San Diego’s Danny Woodhead (59) and after 11 games is within reach of his two previous season highs (63 in 2008, 57 in 2007).

In the most recent 10 NFL seasons of Trestman as an assistant coach, the No. 1 back in his offenses have averaged 65.4 catches per year. Adrian Peterson has the acknowledge standing as the NFL’s best running back, but Forte, who ranks third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage since 2008 behind only Peterson and Chris Johnson, has amassed 1,300 more yards receiving than Peterson since coming into the NFL in 2008.

“He can run inside and outside,” Trestman said. “He’s a very good pass receiver and he’s a very big part of our protection package. He’s in every protection meeting. He’s a big part of picking up that sixth player, wherever he comes from. He’s got multiple skill sets and he’s a three-down player. There’s a lot of flexibility in what you can do with him.”

[MORE: Bears-Vikings WR Viewers Guide: Needing methodical pass game]

It was Forte who did the greatest damage to the Minnesota Vikings when the two teams met on Sept. 15, leading the Bears with 10 pass receptions in addition to rushing for 88 yards on 20 carries. The 30 touches were a season high for him and a clue to what makes the Trestman offense function at its best.

The question facing the Bears is whether Forte is functioning at his best. He had to leave the St. Louis game for a brief stretch with a hyperextended knee, did not practice in full until Friday and is someone the Bears can ill afford to have at less than full throttle.

"I think Matt will be fine,” said offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer. “But if it wasn’t 100 percent, [Michael] Bush has to step up and play…. So he’d have to step up. He should be fresh.”

What to look for: Bush was fresh in the St. Louis game; he just was ineffective, and has been for some weeks now. Coaches defend his performances and cite his work against Green Bay, with seven carries for 25 yards.

But since then he has carried 11 times for net zero yards, with a touchdown against the Rams but too many failures that cost the offense minutes that were needed later for a comeback effort.

Whether coaches stay with Bush, who lacks the ability/agility to improvise out of a stuffed play, in red-zone/goal-line situations, is to be watched as the season reaches its final run toward the playoffs.

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