For all of the attention paid to Detroit Lions all-purpose running back Reggie Bush, the dominant back in Lions-Bears games for the past five years has typically been Matt Forte.
The Bears lost both games to Detroit in 2007. Then they drafted Forte in 2008 and have only lost once since.
Not all because of Forte, obviously, but over the span of his 10 games against the Lions he has averaged 120 yards — 88 rushing, 32 receiving — per game and has eight total touchdowns in Detroit games. Forte is averaging 121 yards per game through three this year.
The Bears have put the ball in his hands 73 times through three games and are 3-0. The number of weapons on the offense has increased, but the Lions have not been able to come close to controlling Forte.
And he worries them.
“Every player is different, and you try to attack every player a little different with the game plan,” said Detroit coach Jim Schwartz. “The thing that makes it difficult with a player like Forte is that you can’t just say, take away the inside run or outside run or the passing game and he doesn’t have anything else. He’s not a one-trick pony. If you stack the inside of the line, he can run outside.
“For guys like that, there’s really no way to game plan them out of the game.”
The threat of Forte lies both in his production and in his ability to force the pass rush of tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh to honor the run on the way to Jay Cutler.
And the Lions used the No. 5 pick of the 2013 draft on speed rusher Ziggy Ansah. The axiom is, “run at speed, run away from size,” meaning that the best way to help tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills is arguably to run at Ansah and the edges.
The Bears have things that the Lions haven’t seen, and they will be unveiling some of them on Sunday.
“We’ve got a lot of games left, so we have lot of stuff saved for teams that play certain coverages or certain fronts,” Forte said. “We have a lot of stuff I would say left over that we ran it in camp and gone over it.
“We know the stuff. We just put it back on the shelf so that when it is the opportune time to call it it’ll be called.”